The PCOS GWAS Candidate Gene ZNF217 Influences Theca Cell Expression of DENND1A.V2, CYP17A1, and Androgen Production

Jamaia S. Waterbury, Maria E. Teves, Alison Gaynor, Angela X. Han, Grace Mavodza, Jordan Newell, Jerome F. Strauss, Jan M. McAllister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common endocrine disorder of women, is characterized by increased ovarian androgen production and anovulatory infertility. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified more than 20 PCOS candidate loci. One GWAS candidate locus encompasses ZNF217, a zinc finger transcription factor. Immunohistochemical staining of ovarian tissue demonstrated significantly lower staining intensity for ZNF217 protein in PCOS theca interna compared to ovarian tissue from normal ovulatory women. Immunofluorescence staining of normal and PCOS theca cells demonstrated nuclear localization of ZNF217, with lower intensity in PCOS cells. Western blotting showed reduced ZNF217 protein in PCOS theca cells compared to normal theca cells, and that treatment with forskolin, which mimics the action of luteinizing hormone (LH), reduces ZNF217 expression. Lower ZNF217 expression in PCOS theca cells was confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Notably, there was an inverse relationship between ZNF217 messenger RNA (mRNA) levels and theca cell androgen (dehydroepiandrosterone; DHEA) synthesis. The abundance of mRNA encoding a splice variant of DENND1A (DENND1A.V2), a PCOS candidate gene that positively regulates androgen biosynthesis, was also inversely related to ZNF217 mRNA levels. This relationship may be driven by increased miR-130b-3p, which targets DENND1A.V2 transcripts and is directly correlated with ZNF217 expression. Forced expression of ZNF217 in PCOS theca cells reduced androgen production, CYP17A1 and DENND1A.V2 mRNA, while increasing mIR-130b-3p. Conversely, knockdown of ZNF217 in normal theca cells with short hairpin RNA-expressing lentivirus particles increased DENND1A.V2 and CYP17A1 mRNA. These observations suggest that ZNF217 is part of a network of PCOS candidate genes regulating thecal cell androgen production involving DENND1A.V2 and miR-130b-3p.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbvac078
JournalJournal of the Endocrine Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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