Colocalization of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Candidate Gene Products in Theca Cells Suggests Novel Signaling Pathways

Rewa Kulkarni, Maria E. Teves, Angela X. Han, Jan M. McAllister, Jerome F. Strauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Genome-wide association studies identified loci associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), including those near the LH receptor gene (LHCGR), a clathrin-binding protein (DENND1A) that functions as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor, and the gene encoding RAB5B, a GTPase involved in vesicular trafficking. We proposed that these three PCOS loci could be assembled into a functional network that contributes to altered gene expression in theca cells, resulting in increased androgen synthesis. The functional significance of this network was supported by our discovery that a truncated protein splice variant of the DENND1A gene, termed DENND1A.V2, is elevated in PCOS theca cells, and that forced expression of DENND1A.V2 in normal theca cells increased CYP11A1 and CYP17A1 expression and androgen synthesis, a hallmark of PCOS. In this study, we demonstrate the colocalization of LHCGR, DENND1AV.2, and RAB5B proteins in various cellular compartments in normal and PCOS theca cells by immunofluorescence. Human chorionic gonadotropin and forskolin stimulation was shown to affect the cytoplasmic distribution of LHCGR, DENND1A.V2, and RAB5B. DENND1A.V2 accumulated in the nuclei of the theca cells. Moreover, PCOS theca cells, following forskolin treatment, had a significantly greater relative abundance of nuclear DENND1A.V2. RAB5B also accumulated in the nuclei of PCOS theca cells treated with forskolin. In contrast, LHCGR did not enter the nucleus. This cytological evidence, and the previously reported increase in androgen biosynthesis with forced expression of DENND1A.V2 in normal theca cells, raises the possibility that DENND1A.V2 and RAB5B participate in increasing transcription of genes involved in androgen synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2204-2223
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Endocrine Society
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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