Steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1) is a nuclear orphan receptor, which is essential for adrenal development and regulation of steroidogenic enzyme expression. SF-1 is posttranslationally modified by small ubiquitin-related modifier-1 (SUMO-1), thus mostly resulting in attenuation of transcription. We investigated the role of sumoylation enzymes, Ubc9 and protein inhibitors of activated STAT1 (PIAS1), in SF-1-mediated transcription of steroidogenic enzyme genes in the adrenal cortex. Coimmunoprecipitation assays showed that both Ubc9 and PIAS1 interacted with SF-1. Transient transfection assays in adrenocortical H295R cells showed Ubc9 and PIAS1 potentiated SF-1-mediated transactivation of reporter constructs containing human CYP17, CYP11A1, and CYP11B1 but not CYP11B2 promoters. Reduction of endogenous Ubc9 and PIAS1 by introducing corresponding small interfering RNA significantly reduced endogenous CYP17, CYP11A1, and CYP11B1 mRNA levels, indicating that they normally function as coactivators of SF-1. Wild type and sumoylation-inactive mutants of Ubc9 and PIAS1 can similarly enhance the SF-1-mediated transactivation of the CYP17gene, indicating that the coactivation potency of Ubc9 and PIAS1 isindependentof sumoylation activity. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that SF-1, Ubc9, and PIAS1 were recruited to an endogenous CYP17 gene promoter in the context of chromatin in vivo. Immunohistochemistry and Western blotting showed that SF-1, Ubc9, and PIAS1 were expressed in the nuclei of the human adrenal cortex. In cortisol-producing adenomas, the expression pattern of SF-1 and Ubc9 were markedly increased, whereas that of PIAS1 was decreased compared with adjacent normal adrenals. These results showed the physiological roles of Ubc9 and PIAS1 as SF-1 coactivators beyond sumoylation enzymes in adrenocortical steroidogenesis and suggested their possible pathophysiological roles in human cortisol-producing adenomas.
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