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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hormone-stimulated steroidogenesis is coupled to mitochondrial benzodiazepine receptors. Tropic hormone action on steroid biosynthesis is inhibited by flunitrazepam.

The mitochondrial (peripheral-type) benzodiazepine receptor ( MBR) is a drug binding site associated with outer mitochondrial membranes which is coupled to intramitochondrial cholesterol transport, the rate-determining step of steroid biosynthesis. To examine the relationship between MBR function and steroid synthesis regulated by polypeptide hormones, the Y-1 adrenocortical and MA-10 Leydig cell lines were used as model systems responsive to adrenocorticotropin and human choriogonadotropin, respectively. Flunitrazepam, a benzodiazepine which binds to MBR with high nanomolar affinity, inhibited the steroidogenic activity of these hormones, or the activation by 1 mM dibutyryl cAMP, in both cell lines by 30-60% with an IC50 of 500-1000 nM. Scatchard analysis in both cell lines revealed one class of specific binding sites for [3H] flunitrazepam verified as being MBR by displacement studies with a series of MBR ligands. The potencies of these ligands to compete against the antagonism of hormone-stimulated steroidogenesis by flunitrazepam correlated significantly with their abilities to compete against [3H]flunitrazepam binding to MBR (r = 0.99). An inhibition in pregnenolone formation was also observed in isolated mitochondrial preparations characterized as a reduction of cholesterol transport to inner mitochondrial membranes. These observations provide unequivocal evidence that the antagonistic action of flunitrazepam is mediated through its interaction with MBR demonstrating that these drug recognition sites are coupled to steroid biosynthesis activated by tropic hormones.[1]


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