A cDNA encoding a secretory protein hitherto unknown was cloned from mouse adrenocortical cells by subtractive hybridization between the cells without and with expressing steroid 1113-hydroxylase (Cyp11b-1), a marker for the functional differentiation of cells in the zonae fasciculata reticularis (zFR). The deduced protein consisting of 466 amino acids contained a secretory signal, epidermal growth factor-like repeats, and a proteolytically inactive cathepsin B-related sequence. The amino acid sequence was 89% identical with that of human tubulointerstitial nephritis antigen-related protein. Among the mouse organs examined, adrenal glands prominently expressed its mRNA. The mRNA and its encoded protein were detected in the outer adrenocortical zones that do not express Cyp11b-1, i.e. the zona glomerulosa and the undifferentiated cell zone, while being undetectable in zFR that express Cyp11b-1. The new protein was designated as adrenocortical zonation factor 1 (AZ-1). Clonal lines with different levels of AZ-1 expression were established from Y-1 adrenocortical cells that originally express Cyp11b-1 but little AZ-1. Analyses of the clonal lines revealed that Cyp11b-1 is detected in the clonal lines maintaining little AZ-1 expression and becomes undetectable in those expressing AZ-1. On the other hand, irrespective of the AZ-1 expression, all clones expressed cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme, which occurs throughout the cortical zones. These results demonstrated that adrenocortical cells expressing AZ-1 do not express Cyp11b-1, whereas those with little AZ-1 express this zFR marker in vitro and in vivo, implying a putative role of AZ-1 in determining the zonal differentiation of adrenocortical cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas