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Activity of retinoic acid receptor-alpha is directly regulated at its protein kinase A sites in response to follicle-stimulating hormone signaling.

Santos N.C., Kim K.H.

Retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RARA) is crucial for germ cell development in the testis, as shown by the degenerated testis in Rara gene knockout mice, which are sterile. Similarly, FSH is known to regulate Sertoli cell proliferation and differentiation, indirectly controlling the quantity of the spermatogenic output. Interestingly, FSH inhibited, via activation of FSH receptor, cAMP, and protein kinase A (PKA), the nuclear localization and transcriptional activity of RARA. Given that retinoic acid, the ligand for RARA, is known to regulate cell proliferation and differentiation, we investigated whether FSH regulates RARA by a direct posttranslational phosphorylation mechanism. Mutagenesis of serine 219 (S219) and S369 at the PKA sites on RARA to either double alanines or double glutamic acids showed that both PKA sites are important for RARA activity. The negative charges at the PKA sites, whether they are from glutamic acids or phosphorylation of serines, decreased the nuclear localization of RARA, heterodimerization with retinoid X receptor-alpha, and the transcriptional activity of the receptor. On the other hand, the double-alanine mutant that cannot be phosphorylated at the 219 and 369 amino acid positions did not respond to cAMP and PKA activation. Wild-type and double-mutant RARA interacted with PKA, but only in the presence of cAMP or FSH. These results together suggest that FSH may regulate cell proliferation and differentiation of Sertoli cells, at least partially, by directly affecting the PKA sites of RARA and controlling the transcriptional function of the receptor.

Endocrinology 151:2361-2372(2010) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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