Identification of a stimulator of steroid hormone synthesis isolated from testis

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Science  16 Jun 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5217, pp. 1609-1612
DOI: 10.1126/science.7777858


Gonadal steroidogenesis is regulated by pituitary gonadotropins and a locally produced, unidentified factor. A 70-kilodalton (kD) protein complex secreted from rat Sertoli cells was isolated. The complex, composed of 28- and 38-kD proteins, stimulated steroidogenesis by Leydig cells and ovarian granulosa cells in a dose-dependent and adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate-independent manner. The follicle-stimulating hormone-induced 28-kD protein appeared to be responsible for the bioactivity, but the 38-kD protein was indispensable for maximal activity. The 28- and 38-kD proteins were shown to be identical to the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) and the proenzyme form of cathepsin L, respectively. Thus, a TIMP-1-procathepsin L complex is a potent activator of steroidogenesis and may regulate steroid concentrations and, thus, germ cell development in both males and females.

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