Molecular and cellular biology

Testosterone-dependent interaction between androgen receptor and aryl hydrocarbon receptor induces liver receptor homolog 1 expression in rat granulosa cells.

PMID 23689136


Androgens play a major role in the regulation of normal ovarian function; however, they are also involved in the development of ovarian pathologies. These contrasting effects may involve a differential response of granulosa cells to the androgens testosterone (T) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). To determine the molecular pathways that mediate the distinct effects of T and DHT, we studied the expression of the liver receptor homolog 1 (LRH-1) gene, which is differentially regulated by these steroids. We found that although both T and DHT stimulate androgen receptor (AR) binding to the LRH-1 promoter, DHT prevents T-mediated stimulation of LRH-1 expression. T stimulated the expression of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and its interaction with the AR. T also promoted the recruitment of the AR/AHR complex to the LRH-1 promoter. These effects were not mimicked by DHT. We also observed that the activation of extracellular regulated kinases by T is required for AR and AHR interaction. In summary, T, but not DHT, stimulates AHR expression and the interaction between AHR and AR, leading to the stimulation of LRH-1 expression. These findings could explain the distinct response of granulosa cells to T and DHT and provide a molecular mechanism by which DHT negatively affects ovarian function.