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Review
. 1996 Feb 9;51(3):197-205.
doi: 10.1016/0006-2952(95)02093-4.

Role of the Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory Protein (StAR) in Steroidogenesis

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Review

Role of the Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory Protein (StAR) in Steroidogenesis

D M Stocco et al. Biochem Pharmacol. .

Abstract

The rate-limiting, hormone-regulated, enzymatic step in steroidogenesis is the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone by the cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme system (CSCC), which is located on the matrix side of the inner mitochondrial membrane. However, it has long been observed that hydrophilic cholesterol-like substrates capable of traversing the mitochondrial membranes are cleaved to pregnenolone by the CSCC in the absence of any hormone stimulation. Therefore, the true regulated step in the acute response of steroidogenic cells to hormone stimulation is the delivery of cholesterol to the inner mitochondrial membrane and the CSCC. It has been known for greater than three decades that transfer of cholesterol requires de novo protein synthesis; however, prior to this time the regulatory protein(s) had yet to be identified conclusively. It is the purpose of this commentary to briefly review a number of the candidates that have been proposed as the acute regulatory protein. As such, we have summarized the available information that describes the roles of transcription, translation, and phosphorylation in this regulation, and have also reviewed the supporting cases that have been made for several of the proteins put forth as the acute regulator. We close with a comprehensive description of the Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory protein (StAR) that we and others have identified and characterized as a family of proteins that are synthesized and imported into the mitochondria in response to hormone stimulation, and for which strong evidence exists indicating that it is the long sought acute regulatory protein.

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