Human chorionic gonadotropin stimulates theca-interstitial cell proliferation and cell cycle regulatory proteins by a cAMP-dependent activation of AKT/mTORC1 signaling pathway

Mol Endocrinol. 2010 Sep;24(9):1782-93. doi: 10.1210/me.2010-0044. Epub 2010 Jul 21.


In addition to playing a cardinal role in androgen production, LH also regulates growth and proliferation of theca-interstitial (T-I) cells. Here, we show for the first time that LH/human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) regulates T-I cell proliferation via the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling network. LH/hCG treatment showed a time-dependent stimulation of T-I cell proliferation and phosphorylation of protein kinase B (AKT), ERK1/2, and ribosomal protein (rp)S6 kinase 1 (S6K1), and its downstream effector, rpS6. Pharmacological inhibition of ERK1/2 signaling did not block the hCG-induced phosphorylation of tuberin, the upstream regulator of mTORC1 or S6K1, the downstream target of mTORC1. However, inhibition of AKT signaling completely blocked the hCG response. Furthermore, the AKT-specific inhibitor abolished forskolin (FSK)-stimulated phosphorylation of AKT, tuberin, S6K1, and rpS6. Human CG and FSK-mediated phosphorylation of AKT and downstream targets of mTORC1 were attenuated by inhibition of adenylyl cyclase. Pharmacologic targeting of mTORC1 with rapamycin also abrogated hCG or FSK-induced phosphorylation of S6K1, rpS6, and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein 1. In addition, hCG or FSK-mediated up-regulation of the cell cycle regulatory proteins cyclin-dependent kinase 4, cyclin D3, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen was blocked by rapamycin. These results were further confirmed by demonstrating that knockdown of mTORC1 using small interfering RNA abolished hCG-mediated increases in cell proliferation and the expression of cyclin D3 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Taken together, the present studies show a novel intracellular signaling pathway for T-I cell proliferation involving LH/hCG-mediated activation of the AKT/mTORC1 signaling cascade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / pharmacology*
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism*
  • Cyclin D1 / genetics
  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • Cyclin D3 / genetics
  • Cyclin D3 / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Silencing / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 / metabolism
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology
  • Theca Cells / cytology*
  • Theca Cells / drug effects
  • Theca Cells / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Crtc1 protein, rat
  • Cyclin D3
  • Eif4ebp1 protein, rat
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Ribosomal Protein S6
  • TSC2 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cyclin D1
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa
  • ribosomal protein S6 kinase, 70kD, polypeptide 1
  • Sirolimus