The WW domain-containing oxidoreductase (WWOX) gene encodes a 46-kDa tumor suppressor. The Wwox protein contains two N-terminal WW domains that interact with several transcriptional activators containing proline-tyrosine motifs and a central short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase domain that has been suggested to play a role in steroid metabolism. Recently, we have shown that targeted deletion of the Wwox gene in mice leads to postnatal lethality and defects in bone growth. Here, we report that Wwox-deficient mice display impaired steroidogenesis. Mutant homozygous mice are born with gonadal abnormalities, including failure of Leydig cell development in testis and reduced theca cell proliferation in ovary. Furthermore, Wwox−/− mice displayed impaired gene expression of key steroidogenesis enzymes. Affymetrix microarray gene analysis revealed differentially expressed related genes in steroidogenesis in knockout mice testis and ovary as compared with control mice. These results demonstrate the essential requirement for the Wwox tumor suppressor in proper steroidogenesis
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