WNT signaling and the regulation of ovarian steroidogenesis

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2011 Jan 1;3:276-85. doi: 10.2741/s151.


One of the major functions of the ovary is the biosynthesis of steroid hormones, which are essential for the development of secondary sexual characteristics at puberty, for subsequent ovarian function, and for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. Increases in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing the control of ovarian steroidogenesis have greatly improved our understanding of the female reproductive cycle, as well as the pathogenesis of reproductive disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and premature ovarian failure. The pituitary gonadotropins follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are the main endocrine regulators of ovarian steroidogenesis, and act by directly or indirectly modulating the activity of a multitude of intracellular signaling pathways. The WNT/CTNNB1 pathway, which is now believed to be a significant contributor to the regulation of ovarian steroidogenesis, could be one of the pathways modulated by gonadotropin signaling. This review will focus on the emerging role of WNT/CTNNB1 signaling in the regulation of steroidogenesis, with emphasis on potential mechanisms of interaction with FSH/LH signaling in ovarian granulosa and luteal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / metabolism*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt / metabolism
  • Ovarian Follicle / metabolism
  • Ovarian Follicle / physiology*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1 / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • CREB1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • NR5A1 protein, human
  • NR5A2 protein, human
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases