Cyclic AMP stimulates SF-1-dependent CYP11A1 expression through homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 3-mediated Jun N-terminal kinase and c-Jun phosphorylation

Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Mar;27(6):2027-36. doi: 10.1128/MCB.02253-06. Epub 2007 Jan 8.


Steroids are synthesized in adrenal glands and gonads under the control of pituitary peptides. These peptides bind to cell surface receptors to activate the cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling pathway leading to an increase of steroidogenic gene expression. Exactly how cAMP activates steroidogenic gene expression is not clear, except for the knowledge that transcription factor SF-1 plays a key role. Investigating the factors participating in SF-1 action, we found that c-Jun and homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 3 (HIPK3) were required for basal and cAMP-stimulated expression of one major steroidogenic gene, CYP11A1. HIPK3 enhanced SF-1 activity, and c-Jun was required for the functional interaction of HIPK3 with SF-1. Furthermore, after cAMP stimulation, both c-Jun and Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) were phosphorylated through HIPK3. These phosphorylations were important for SF-1 activity and CYP11A1 expression. Thus, we have defined HIPK3-mediated JNK activity and c-Jun phosphorylation as important events that increase SF-1 activity for CYP11A1 transcription in response to cAMP. This finding has linked three common factors, HIPK3, JNK, and c-Jun, to the cAMP signaling pathway leading to increased steroidogenic gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cholesterol Side-Chain Cleavage Enzyme / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1
  • Transcription Factors
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cholesterol Side-Chain Cleavage Enzyme
  • HIPK3 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases