The luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR), a member of the G protein-coupled, seven transmembrane receptor family, is essential for normal sexual development and reproductive function. LHR are expressed primarily in the gonads, but also are found in non-gonadal and cancer tissues. LH acts through LH receptors in Leydig cells to maintain general metabolic processes and steroidogenic enzymes, and in the ovary enhances follicular development and steroidogenesis in granulosa and luteal cells. The major transcriptional start sites of the LHR gene are located within the 176bp promoter domain. In the rat, the LHR gene is constitutively inhibited by upstream sequences (-176/-2056bp) in several cell systems, while in the human only a minor inhibitory effect was observed in JAR and HeLa cells (>20%). The TATA-less human promoter is driven by Sp1 and Sp3 transactivators that bind to two Sp1 domains at -79bp [Sp1(I)] and -119bp [Sp1(II)] (from ATG) with additive effects. An imperfect estrogen receptor half-site response element direct-repeat within the LHR promoter is an inhibitory locus. Endogenous orphan receptors, EAR2 and EAR3/COUP-TFI, bind this motif and repress promoter activity by 70%. TR4 also binds this motif and stimulates promoter activity (up to 2.5-fold). This is reversed by coexpression of EAR2 or EAR3/COUP-TFI through competitive binding to this site. Comparative studies of hDR and rDR orphan receptors binding and function revealed sequence-specific requirements. The A/C mismatch between hDR and rDR is responsible for the lack of TR4 binding and function in the rat. The G 3'-adjacent to the hDR core is important for EAR2/EAR3-COUP-TFI high-affinity binding. The Sp1-1 site is critical for EAR3/COUP-TFI repression, with minor participation for EAR2, and is not involved in the TR4 effect. Interaction of EAR3/COUP-TFI with Sp1 perturbs association of TFIIB with Sp1, independently of HDACs, and caused impairment of LHR transcription. Other aspect of control is through HDAC/mSin3A mechanism. Inhibition of HDACs by TSA increases LHR promoter activity in JAR cells (40-fold), association of acetylated H3/H4 with the LHR promoter, recruitment of Pol II to the promoter, and LHR mRNA levels. A multiprotein complex is recruited to the hLHR promoter via interaction with Sp1/Sp3: HDACs dock directly to Sp1-1 bound DNA and indirectly to Sp3-1 bound DNA through RbAp48, while mSin3A interacts HDACs and potentiates HDAC1-mediated repression. Our studies have demonstrated that orphan receptor-ERE complexes, and the HDAC1-HDAC2-mSin3A complex have important roles in the regulation of LHR gene transcription by interaction with Sp1/Sp3, and by region-specific changes in histone acetylation and Pol II recruitment within the LHR promoter.
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