GTP stimulated pregnenolone generation in isolated rat adrenal mitochondria

X. Xu, T. Xu, D. G. Robertson, J. D. Lambeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Pregnenolone synthesis from cholesterol by adrenal mitochondria isolated from ether-stressed rats exhibits a biphasic time course: upon the addition of a reducing substrate (e.g. malate), a rapid phase of pregnenolone formation occurs during the first 5 min, which has been interpreted as the metabolism of a steroidogenic pool of cholesterol, probably in the inner membrane. A slower rate follows, which is interpreted as translocation of cholesterol into the steroidogenic pool. While a 30-min preincubation of mitochondria with cholesterol alone did not affect the extent of the rapid phase, preincubation with GTP plus cholesterol extended the first phase, resulting in an up to 2-fold increase in pregnenolone synthesis by 20-30 min. The apparent K(m) for GTP was 0.1-0.4 mM, and stimulation was maximal with preincubation times of 10-30 min, depending upon incubation conditions. Exogenous cholesterol was not required to observe a stimulatory effect, indicating that GTP reorganizes the endogenous mitochondrial cholesterol pools. Nevertheless, stimulation was greater when exogenous cholesterol was provided, consistent with enhanced utilization of both endogenous and exogenous cholesterol. Stimulation by GTP was also seen in mitochondria isolated from cycloheximide-injected/ether-stressed rats, although the activity in these preparations was always lower than that in mitochondria from ether-stressed rats. The stimulation was specific for GTP, since many other nucleotides (e.g. ATP, GDP, and ITP) and GTP analogues (guanosine 5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate and guanosine 5'-(β,γ-imino)triphosphate) had no effect. The GTP-activated state was reversible: after GTP hydrolysis by a mitochondrial GTPase, pregnenolone synthesis returned to the basal level. Sonic disruption of mitochondria abolished the stimulatory effect of GTP. These results suggest that GTP enhances pregnenolone synthesis by promoting the movement of cholesterol to the steroidogenic pool, consistent with a recently proposed general role for GTP in some vectorial transport processes. (Bourne, H.R. (1988) Cell 53, 669-671).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17674-17680
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number30
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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