17α-Hydroxylase (CYP17) expression in propagated theca cells isolated from the ovaries of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is persistently elevated, compared with theca cells isolated from normal ovaries. To investigate the mechanism for increased CYP17 messenger RNA accumulation in PCOS theca cells, we examined CYP17 and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) promoter activities in normal and PCOS theca cells. Conditions were established to transiently transfect human theca cells with reporter gene constructs containing 5′ truncations of the human CYP17 and StAR promoters. Cotransfection of a steroidogenic factor-1 expression plasmid was found to be required for detection of basal and forskolinstimulated CYP17 promoter activity but not for StAR promoter activity. However, cotransfection with a steroidogenic factor-1 expression plasmid augmented both basal and forskolin-stimulated StAR promoter activity. CYP17 reporter activity was compared in theca cells isolated from normal and PCOS patients. Basal and forskolin-stimulated CYP17 promoter activity was 4-fold greater in PCOS cells than in theca cells isolated from normal ovaries. In contrast, StAR promoter activity, and the activity of a reporter construct containing three copies of a camp response element (3xCRE), were similar in normal and PCOS theca cells. The results of these studies document: 1) that basal and camp-dependent CYP17 gene transcription is increased in PCOS theca cells; 2) that there is differential regulation of promoters of genes required for steroidogenesis in PCOS theca cells; and 3) that passaged normal and PCOS theca cells provide a model system for studying tissue-specific regulation of genes encoding steroidogenic enzymes and identifying the molecular mechanisms involved in increased androgen production in PCOS.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical