POD-1/Tcf21 overexpression reduces endogenous SF-1 and StAR expression in rat adrenal cells
During gonad and adrenal development, the POD-1/capsulin/TCF21transcription factor negatively regulates SF-1/NR5A1expression, with higher SF-1 levels being associated with increased adrenal cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. In adrenocortical tumor cells, POD-1 binds to the SF-1 E-box promoter region, decreasing SF-1 expression. However, the modulation of SF-1 expression by POD-1 has not previously been described in normal adrenal cells. Here, we analyzed the basal expression of Pod-1 and Sf-1 in primary cultures of glomerulosa (G) and fasciculata/reticularis (F/R) cells isolated from male Sprague-Dawley rats, and investigated whether POD-1 overexpression modulates the expression of endogenous Sf-1 and its target genes in these cells. POD-1 overexpression, following the transfection of pCMVMycPod-1, significantly decreased the endogenous levels of Sf-1 mRNA and protein in F/R cells, but not in G cells, and also decreased the expression of the SF-1 target StAR in F/R cells. In G cells overexpressing POD-1, no modulation of the expression of SF-1 targets, StAR and CYP11B2, was observed. Our data showing that G and F/R cells respond differently to ectopic POD-1 expression emphasize the functional differences between the outer and inner zones of the adrenal cortex, and support the hypothesis that SF-1 is regulated by POD-1/Tcf21 in normal adrenocortical cells lacking the alterations in cellular physiology found in tumor cells.