The involvement of specific PKC isoenzymes in phorbol ester-mediated regulation of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein expression and steroid synthesis in mouse Leydig cells.

PMID 21047949


Protein kinase C (PKC) is a multigene family of serine/threonine kinases. PKC is involved in regulating adrenal and gonadal steroidogenesis; however, the functional relevance of the different PKC isoenzymes remains obscure. In this study, we demonstrate that MA-10 mouse Leydig tumor cells express several PKC isoforms to varying levels and that the activation of PKC signaling, by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) elevated the expression and phosphorylation of PKCα, -δ, -ε, and -μ/protein kinase D (PKD). These responses coincided with the expression of the steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein and progesterone synthesis. Targeted silencing of PKCα, δ, and ε and PKD, using small interfering RNAs, resulted in deceases in basal and PMA-mediated StAR and steroid levels and demonstrated the importance of PKD in steroidogenesis. PKD was capable of controlling PMA and cAMP/PKA-mediated synergism involved in the steroidogenic response. Further studies pointed out that the regulatory events effected by PKD are associated with cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and c-Jun/c-Fos-mediated transcription of the StAR gene. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies revealed that the activation of phosphorylated CREB, c-Jun, and c-Fos by PMA was correlated with in vivo protein-DNA interactions and the recruitment of CREB-binding protein, whereas knockdown of PKD suppressed the association of these factors with the StAR promoter. Ectopic expression of CREB-binding protein enhanced the trans-activation potential of CREB and c-Jun/c-Fos in StAR gene expression. Using EMSA, a -83/-67-bp region of the StAR promoter was shown to bind PKD-transfected MA-10 nuclear extract in a PMA-responsive manner, targeting CREB and c-Jun/c-Fos proteins. These findings provide evidence for the presence of multiple PKC isoforms and demonstrate the molecular events by which selective isozymes, especially PKD, influence PMA/PKC signaling involved in the regulation of the steroidogenic machinery in mouse Leydig cells.