Porcine aromatase: Studies on tissue-specific, functionally distinct isozymes from a single gene?

Alan J Conley, J. Corbin, T. Smith, M. Hinshelwood, Z. Liu, E. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Aromatase cytochrome P450 (P450(arom)) is expressed in a variety of tissues. Pigs express P450(arom) as bilaminar blastocysts in utero, and thereafter in the gonads, adrenal glands and placenta. Our studies also demonstrate the existence of porcine isozymes of P450(arom) which differ substantially in their amino acid composition and function. The placental isoform, most similar to P450(arom) in other mammals, consists of 503 amino acids. The ovarian isoform, expressed in both theca and granulosa cells, is a 501 amino acid protein exhibiting less than 20% of the activity of the placental isozyme. Furthermore, it is inhibited not only by CGS16949A but also by etomidate which does not inhibit the placenta P450(arom). Partial sequences generated by the rapid amplification of the cDNA ends (RACE) procedure indicate that the expression of a third isoform in the blastocyst is switched to the placental isozyme during differentiation of the fetal membranes. In addition, these transcripts, and others from theca, granulosa, testes, adrenal glands and placenta demonstrate differences in the 5'-untranslated sequence was obtained from transcripts expressed in the theca and granulosa. Testes and adrenal transcripts also have identical 5' ends, which differ substantially from the ovarian sequence. Blastocyst and placenta 5'-untranslated sequences differ from each other and from those expressed in the gonads and adrenals. Several tissue-specific transcripts thus encode P450(arom). Interestingly, distinct 5' sequences exist for ovarian and testes P450(arom) mRNAs, suggesting different promoters and therefore regulation in the male and female gonads. The molecular origins of the functional isoforms and the tissue-specific transcripts are uncertain, however partial genomic sequence and other genetic analyses suggest the existence of multiple genes. However, sequence alignment of the placental and ovarian isoforms indicates complete conservation of putative exon III, so that complex splicing remains a possibility. Clearly, the regulation of P450(arom) expression is more complex in the pig than in other vertebrates investigated to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-413
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3-6
StatePublished - Apr 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology


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