Control of cholesterol access to cytochrome P450scc in rat adrenal cells mediated by regulation of the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein

Young Cheul Kim, Noritaka Ariyoshi, Irina Artemenko, Mary E. Elliott, Kalyan K. Bhattacharyya, Colin R. Jefcoate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Cholesterol conversion to pregnenolone by cytochrome P450scc in steroidogenic cells, including those of the adrenal cortex, is determined by hormonal control of cholesterol availability. Intramitochondrial cholesterol movement to P450scc, which retains hormonal activation in isolated mitochondria, is apparently dependent on peripheral benzodiazepine receptor and the recently cloned steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein. In rat adrenal cells, StAR is formed as a 37-kDa precursor that is transferred to the mitochondrial inner membrane following phosphorylation by hormonally activated protein kinase A, and processed to multiple forms, some of which turn over very rapidly. In bovine cells, StAR undergoes three modifications forming a set of eight proteins seen in both glomerulosa and fasciculata cells. In the former, cyclic AMP and angiotensin II each decrease two forms and elevate six forms. Significantly, the major change seen after activation may not involve phosphorylation of StAR. Cholesterol transfer across mitochondrial membranes is also activated in isolated mitochondria by GTP and low concentrations of Ca2+, apparently prior to activation by StAR. Depletion of StAR by cycloheximide inhibits cholesterol transfer but is overcome by uptake of Ca2+ into the matrix. This activation of cellular cholesterol transport is sustained in adrenal cells permeabilized by Streptolysin O. In rat adrenal cells cAMP elevates 3.5- and 1.6-kb mRNA, hybridized by a 1.9-kb StAR cDNA. A 3.5-kb rat adrenal cDNA that encodes all except the 5' end of the longest StAR mRNA has been characterized. The corresponding gene sequence is distributed across seven exons. The shorter mRNA may arise from polyadenylation signals early in exon 7. However, the 3.5-kb mRNA comprises 80-90% of untreated rat adrenal StAR mRNA and may therefore provide the prime source for in vivo translation of StAR protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-20
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • acute response
  • adrenal cell
  • cholesterol transport
  • steroidogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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