Activin stimulates CYP19A gene expression in human ovarian granulosa cell-like KGN cells via the Smad2 signaling pathway

Masatoshi Nomura, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hidetaka Morinaga, Lixiang Wang, Chizu Mukasa, Ryoichi Takayanagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Activin, a transforming growth factor β family member, has a wide range of physiological roles during embryonic development and organogenesis. In the ovary, activin, secreted from ovarian granulosa cells, not only acts on the pituitary gland to regulate the gonadotropin secretion from the pituitary gland in an endocrine manner but also acts on granulosa cells in a paracrine/autocrine manner to regulate folliculogenesis. Previously, we showed that activin signals through activin type IB receptor (ActRIB) and up-regulates follicle-stimulating hormone receptor expression and P450 aromatase activity in human ovarian granulose cell-like KGN cells. In the current study, we demonstrate the direct involvement of Smad2 as a downstream signal mediator of ActRIB in the transcriptional regulation of the P450 aromatase gene (CYP19A) in KGN cells. Upon activin stimulation, Smad2 activation and an increase in P450 aromatase messenger RNA (mRNA) were observed in KGN cells. Interestingly, Smad2 phosphorylation correlated well with the increase in P450 aromatase mRNA. Reciprocally, knockdown of Smad2 mRNA in KGN cells led to a decrease in the P450 aromatase mRNA expression, suggesting that Smad2 regulates CYP19A gene expression. Further analysis of CYP19A promoter activity revealed that the 5' upstream region between -2069 and -1271. bp is required for the activation by Smad2. Finally, we provide compelling evidence that Smad2 shows follicular stage-specific expression, which is high in granulosa cells of preantral or early antral follicles in mice. Our results suggest that activin signaling through the ActRIB-Smad2 pathway plays a pivotal role in CYP19A expression and thus in follicular development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-448
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 5 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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