Correlation Engine 2.0
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    FSH is critical for fertility. Transcription of FSHB, the gene encoding the beta subunit, is rate-limiting in FSH production and is regulated by both GnRH and activin. Activin signals through SMAD transcription factors. Although the mechanisms and importance of activin signaling in mouse Fshb transcription are well-established, activin regulation of human FSHB is less well understood. We previously reported a novel enhancer of FSHB that contains a fertility-associated single nucleotide polymorphism (rs10031006) and requires a region resembling a full (8 base-pair) SMAD binding element (SBE). Here, we investigated the role of the putative SBE within the enhancer in activin and GnRH regulation of FSHB. In mouse gonadotrope-derived LβT2 cells, the upstream enhancer potentiated activin induction of both the human and mouse FSHB proximal promoters and conferred activin responsiveness to a minimal promoter. Activin induction of the enhancer required the SBE and was blocked by the inhibitory SMAD7, confirming involvement of the classical SMAD signaling pathway. GnRH induction of FSHB was also potentiated by the enhancer and dependent on the SBE, consistent with known activin/GnRH synergy regulating FSHB transcription. In DNA pull-down, the enhancer SBE bound SMAD4, and chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrated SMAD4 enrichment at the enhancer in native chromatin. Combined activin/GnRH treatment elevated levels of the active transcriptional histone marker, histone 3 lysine 27 acetylation, at the enhancer. Overall, this study indicates that the enhancer is directly targeted by activin signaling and identifies a novel, evolutionarily conserved mechanism by which activin and GnRH can regulate FSHB transcription. © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Endocrine Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    Stephanie C Bohaczuk, Jessica Cassin, Theresa I Slaiwa, Varykina G Thackray, Pamela L Mellon. Distal Enhancer Potentiates Activin- and GnRH-Induced Transcription of FSHB. Endocrinology. 2021 Jul 01;162(7)

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    PMID: 33824966

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