Author(s): Staels B, Hum DW, Miller WL
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Abstract NCI-H295 is a recently described human adrenocortical carcinoma cell line that makes a variety of steroid hormones. We sought to determine if steroidogenesis in these cells employs the same enzymes as those used in normal adrenal steroidogenesis, and if the genes encoding those enzymes exhibit characteristic responsiveness to activators of the protein kinase-A and -C pathways of intracellular second messengers. Northern blots show that NCI-H295 cells contain abundant mRNAs for three key steroidogenic enzymes, cytochrome P450scc, cytochrome P450c17, and cytochrome P450c21. These mRNAs accumulated in a time- and dose-dependent fashion in response to 8-bromo-cAMP (8Br-cAMP), forskolin, cholera toxin, and 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine, all activators of the protein kinase-A pathway. Nuclear run-on assays and actinomycin-D transcriptional inhibition experiments show that cAMP regulates the expression of all three genes primarily at the transcriptional level. Inhibition of protein synthesis with cycloheximide did not prevent the cAMP-induced accumulation of P450scc or P450c17 mRNAs, but did inhibit accumulation of P450c21 mRNA, suggesting that cAMP is acting through a mechanism dependent on protein synthesis to promote accumulation of P450c21 mRNA. Stimulation of the protein kinase-C pathway with phorbol ester decreased P450scc and P450c17 mRNAs, but stimulated the accumulation of P450c21 mRNA. RNase protection experiments, Northern blot hybridizations, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction show that NCI-H295 cells express both the 11 beta-hydroxylase (P450c11 beta) encoded by the P450c11B1 gene and the aldosterone synthetase (P450c11AS) encoded by the P450c11B2 gene. 8Br-cAMP increased the abundance of both of these mRNAs with similar kinetics, with maximal accumulation of both after about 24 h. NCI-H295 cells also contain the mRNAs for aromatase and insulin-like growth factor-II. 8Br-cAMP increased the abundance of aromatase mRNA and decreased the abundance of IGF-II mRNA. These studies show that NCI-H295 cells express most of the enzymes needed for human adrenal steroidogenesis, and that the genes encoding these enzymes respond to stimulation of second messenger pathways in a manner similar to that of human adrenals. NCI-H295 cells appear to be a good model for studying the molecular regulation of human adrenal steroidogenesis.
This article was published in Mol Endocrinol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology