Mitochondrial aconitase gene expression is regulated by testosterone and prolactin in prostate epithelial cells

Prostate. 2000 Feb 15;42(3):196-202. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0045(20000215)42:3<196::aid-pros5>;2-8.


Background: m-aconitase catalyzes the first step leading to the oxidation of citrate via the Krebs cycle. It is a constituitive enzyme in virtually all mammalian cells, found in excess, and is considered to be a regulatory or regulated enzyme. In contrast to these general relationships, prostate secretory epithelial cells possess a uniquely limiting mitochondrial (m-) aconitase which minimizes the oxidation of citrate. This permits the unique prostate function of accumulating and secreting extraordinarily high levels of citrate. Previous animal studies demonstrated that testosterone and prolactin regulate the level of m-aconitase specifically in citrate-producing prostate cells. The present studies were conducted to determine if testosterone and prolactin regulated the expression of the m-aconitase gene in prostate cells, and to determine the effect of the hormones on human prostate cells.

Methods: The studies were conducted with freshly prepared rat ventral, rat lateral, and pig prostate epithelial cells, and with the human malignant cell lines LNCaP and PC-3. The effects of 1 nM testosterone and 3 nM prolactin on the level of m-aconitase mRNA and on the transcription rate of m-aconitase were determined.

Results: The studies revealed that both prolactin and testosterone increase the levels of m-aconitase mRNA and the transcription rates of m-aconitase in rat ventral prostate cells, pig prostate cells, and human malignant prostate cells (LNCaP and PC-3). In contrast, both hormones decreased the level of m-aconitase mRNA and repressed m-aconitase gene transcription in rat lateral prostate cells. The hormonal regulation of m-aconitase corresponded with the levels of m-aconitase enzyme, m-aconitase activity, and citrate oxidation.

Conclusions: In addition to the constitutive expression of m-aconitase, the m-aconitase gene is testosterone- and prolactin-regulated in specifically targeted prostate cells. The hormonal regulation of m-aconitase gene expression and biosynthesis of m-aconitase provide a regulatory mechanism for the oxidation of citrate, and consequently, the level of net citrate production by prostate. The hormonally increased expression and biosynthesis of m-aconitase in human malignant cells might be involved in the increased citrate oxidation associated with the development of true malignant cells in prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aconitate Hydratase / biosynthesis
  • Aconitate Hydratase / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / enzymology
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Prolactin / physiology*
  • Prostate / cytology
  • Prostate / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Swine
  • Testosterone / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Testosterone
  • Prolactin
  • Aconitate Hydratase