miR-132 is hormonally regulated in steroidogenic cells of the adrenal gland, ovary and testis. Here, we examined the potential role of miR-132 in the control of steroidogenesis. Transfection of Y1 adrenal cells with miR-132 increased mRNAs of 3ß-HSD and 20a-HSD enzymes, which catalyze the sequential conversion of pregnenolone to progesterone to biologically inactive 20a-hydroxyprogesterone (20a-OHP). Overexpression of miR-132 reduced MeCP2 and StAR protein expression, basal progestin (progesterone and 20a-OHP) production, but enhanced their production in response to cAMP stimulation. Use of [3H] pregnenolone and free-diffusible 22(R)-hydroxycholesterol further confirmed that miR-132 promotes the production of 20a-OHP by upregulating 3ß-HSD and 20a-HSD. Evidence is also presented that StAR is a direct target of miR-132. Transient transfection of Y1 cells with miR-132 demonstrated that miR-132 induction of 3ß-HSD and 20a-HSD was accompanied by significant suppression of one of its target gene products, MeCP2. In contrast, co-expression of miR-132 plus MeCP2 protein partially blocked the ability of miR-132 to upregulate the expression and function of 3ß-HSD and 20a-HSD. Moreover, suppression of MeCP2 protein with siRNA resulted in increased expression of 3ß-HSD and 20a-HSD, further demonstrating that miR-132 induces the expression of these two enzymes via inhibition of MeCP2. Likewise, overexpression of miR-132 increased 20a-OHP production with and without HDL loading, while knockdown of miR-132 resulted in a significant decrease of 20a-OHP production by granulosa cells. In conclusion, our data suggest that miR-132 attenuates steroidogenesis by repressing StAR expression and inducing 20a-HSD via inhibition of MeCP2 to generate a biologically inactive 20a-OHP.
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