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Activin regulation of the follicle-stimulating hormone beta-subunit gene involves Smads and the TALE homeodomain proteins Pbx1 and Prep1.

Bailey J.S., Rave-Harel N., McGillivray S.M., Coss D., Mellon P.L.

FSH is critical for normal reproductive function in both males and females. Activin, a member of the TGFbeta family of growth factors, is an important regulator of FSH expression, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms through which it acts. We used transient transfections into the immortalized gonadotrope cell line LbetaT2 to identify three regions (at -973/-962, -167, and -134) of the ovine FSH beta-subunit gene that are required for full activin response. All three regions contain homology to consensus binding sites for Smad proteins, the intracellular mediators of TGFbeta family signaling. Mutation of the distal site reduces activin responsiveness, whereas mutation of either proximal site profoundly disrupts activin regulation of the FSHbeta gene. These sites specifically bind LbetaT2 nuclear proteins in EMSAs, and the -973/-962 site binds Smad4 protein. Interestingly, the protein complex binding to the -134 site contains Smad4 in association with the homeodomain proteins Pbx1 and Prep1. Using glutathione S-transferase interaction assays, we demonstrate that Pbx1 and Prep1 interact with Smads 2 and 3 as well. The two proximal activin response elements are well conserved across species, and Pbx1 and Prep1 proteins bind to the mouse gene in vivo. Furthermore, mutation of either proximal site abrogates activin responsiveness of a mouse FSHbeta reporter gene as well, confirming their functional conservation. Our studies provide a basis for understanding activin regulation of FSHbeta gene expression and identify Pbx1 and Prep1 as Smad partners and novel mediators of activin action.

Mol. Endocrinol. 18:1158-1170(2004) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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