An inhibitory role for the protein kinase C pathway in ovarian steroidogenesis. Studies with cultured swine granulosa cells

J. D. Veldhuis, L. M. Demers

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We have used primary cultures of swine granulosa cells to investigate the regulatory role of the protein kinase C pathway in the ovary. In this system, we observed the following. (1) Swine granulosa cells bound [3H]phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate ([3H]PDB) specifically with high affinity [apparent K(i) for 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) = 3.1 (2.1-4.7) nM] and low capacity [0.68 (0.34-0.99) pmol/107 cells]. (2) The cytosol of granulosa cells contained functionally active protein kinase C capable of phosphorylating distinct proteins in response to stimulation with active phorbol ester. (3) TPA and PDB induced dose-dependent inhibition (>85%) of follicle-stimulating-hormone (FSH)-stimulated progesterone production. Half-maximally inhibitory concentrations were 0.10 and 0.75 nM for TPA and PDB respectively, whereas phorbol analogues that do not activate protein kinase C were not inhibitory. (4) TPA did not impede cyclic AMP generation in response to FSH, cholera toxin or forskolin acutely (within 48 h), but did inhibit the stimulatory effects of 8-bromo cyclic AMP, insulin and oestradiol on progesterone biosynthesis. (5) In the presence of maximally effective concentrations of 25-hydroxy, 20α-hydroxy- or 22R-hydroxy-cholesterol as exogenous sterol substrates for cholesterol side-chain cleavage, treatment with TPA suppressed pregnenolone, progesterone and 20α-hydroxypregn-4-en-3-one biosynthesis by more than 80%. (6) The inhibitory effects of phorbol esters were not attributable to non-specific cytotoxicity, since prostaglandin F(2α) production increased in the same cultures and aromatization or exogenously supplied testosterone to oestradiol was not suppressed. (7) In intact granulosa cells, the effects of phorbol esters were mimicked by a synthetic non-diterpene diacylglycerol, 1-octanoyl-2-acetylglycerol, and the tumour promoter, mezerein, which specifically activates protein kinase C. We conclude that swine granulosa cells contain specific high-affinity receptors for phorbol esters that are functionally coupled to protein phosphorylation. Moreover, treatment with phorbol esters or non-phorbol activators of protein kinase C results in selective inhibition of cholesterol side-chain cleavage activity without impairing cyclic AMP generation or oestrogen biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-511
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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