Molecular and cellular biology

E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF31 cooperates with DAX-1 in transcriptional repression of steroidogenesis.

PMID 19237537


Genetic and experimental evidence points to a critical involvement of the atypical mammalian orphan receptor DAX-1 in reproductive development and steroidogenesis. Unlike conventional nuclear receptors, DAX-1 appears not to function as a DNA-bound transcription factor. Instead, it has acquired the capability to act as a transcriptional corepressor of steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1). The interplay of DAX-1 and SF-1 is considered a central, presumably ligand-independent element of adrenogonadal development and function that requires tight regulation. This raises a substantial interest in identifying its modulators and the regulatory signals involved. Here, we uncover molecular mechanisms that link DAX-1 to the ubiquitin modification system via functional interaction with the E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF31. We demonstrate that RNF31 is coexpressed with DAX-1 in steroidogenic tissues and participates in repressing steroidogenic gene expression. We provide evidence for the in vivo existence of a corepressor complex containing RNF31 and DAX-1 at the promoters of the StAR and CYP19 genes. Our data suggest that RNF31 functions to stabilize DAX-1, which might be linked to DAX-1 monoubiquitination. In conclusion, RNF31 appears to be required for DAX-1 to repress transcription, provides means to regulate DAX-1 in ligand-independent ways, and emerges as a relevant coregulator of steroidogenic pathways governing physiology and disease.