Horm Metab Res 1998; 30(1): 16-18
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-978825
Original Basic

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms Used in the Acute Phase of Stimulated Steroidogenesis

M. Thomson
  • Department of Biological Sciences, University of Western Sydney Nepean, Kingswood, Australia
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Publication History



Publication Date:
20 April 2007 (online)

Steroidogenic tissue can respond almost immediately to a stimulatory hormonal stimuli. Recent findings are shedding light on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that are used to synthesize and export steroid hormones in the acute phase of stimulation. In addition to utilising the cAMP intracellular messenger system to convey a stimulatory message, steroidogenic cells may employ the protein kinase C, arachidonic acid, tyrosine phosphate and nitrous oxide systems. It has been proposed that cholesterol laden vesicles travel along a network of intermediate filaments to reach the mitochondria. Cholesterol may then translocate from the outer mitochondrial membrane to the inner via sites of contact between the two membranes. These contact sites may be composed of protein bridges which include the constituents, porin, the benzodiazepine receptor and GTP binding proteins. Cholesterol is transported through the contact sites to the inner membrane and on reaching cytochrome P450 side chain cleavage (P450scc), cholesterol is converted to pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is in turn converted to a range of steroid hormones via enzyme casades. GTP binding proteins may regulate the contact site between the inner and outer membranes and thereby modulate cholesterol flux to P450 scc. In the adrenal and gonads the rate that cholesterol traverses the contact point to reach the inner membrane is accelerated by the Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein. Newly synthesized steroid hormones are transported to the cell periphery for export via a mechanism that may utilise an ion exchange protein.