Journal of molecular endocrinology

The role of JUN in the regulation of PRKCC-mediated STAR expression and steroidogenesis in mouse Leydig cells.

PMID 18755854


Activator protein 1 (JUN) transcription factors (JUN and FOS) play critical roles in a wide variety of signaling processes including those in the protein kinase C (PRKCC) pathway, a pathway that is instrumental in the expression of the steroidogenic acute regulatory (STAR) protein. In the present study, we determined the functional involvement of one of the key JUN family members, JUN, in the regulation of PRKCC-dependent STAR expression and steroidogenesis. MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells treated with an activator of PRKCC, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), demonstrated increases in the expression of the STAR and CYP11A1 proteins and progesterone synthesis, which coincided with the expression and phosphorylation of JUN (P-JUN). PMA was also capable of enhancing the cAMP analog, (Bu)(2)cAMP, which stimulated JUN, STAR, P-STAR and progesterone levels. The induction of Jun mRNA expression and steroid synthesis by PMA requires de novo protein synthesis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies revealed the association of P-JUN with the STAR proximal promoter and that PMA specifically enhanced in vivo P-JUN-DNA interaction. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and reporter gene analyses demonstrated that JUN binds to the JUN motif (-81/-75 bp) in the STAR promoter, and that JUN-DNA-binding activity was highly correlated with the induction of JUN by PRKCC signaling. Overexpression of JUN increased the PMA-mediated transcription of the Star gene, an event markedly decreased by TAM-67, a dominant negative mutant of JUN. Targeted silencing of endogenous JUN, by small interfering RNA, was correlated with the repression of basal- and PMA-mediated STAR expression and progesterone synthesis. These findings describe the mechanisms by which JUN influences PRKCC signaling and provide additional and novel insight into the regulation of the steroidogenic machinery in mouse Leydig cells.