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L Benbrahim-Tallaa, F Boussouar, C Rey, and M Benahmed

Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are a family of soluble enzymes of detoxification that use reduced glutathione in conjugation and reduction reactions. Toxic electrophiles are substrates for the GSTs. GSTalpha is expressed at high levels in different tIssues such as the testis. Among the different GSTs present in the testis, GSTalpha is specifically expressed in Leydig and Sertoli cells known to be under the control of hormonal and local regulatory factors. The present study investigated the regulatory action of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) on basal and hormone (FSH and testosterone)-stimulated GSTalpha expression in cultured Sertoli cells. Treatment with TNFalpha (0-20 ng/ml, 48 h) induced a decrease in basal GSTalpha mRNA levels in a dose-dependent manner (fivefold decrease; P<0.001). The maximal and half maximal effects were observed at 20 ng/ml and 7 ng/ml respectively. The inhibitory effect of TNFalpha was also time-dependent with a maximal inhibitory effect (threefold decrease; P<0.001) observed at 48 h. The inhibitory effect of the cytokine was also observed on basal GSTalpha protein (28 kDa) levels. TNFalpha also inhibited the hormone-stimulated GSTalpha expression in Sertoli cells. The treatment of cultured Sertoli cells with both FSH and TNFalpha (100 ng/ml and 10 ng/ml respectively, 48 h) resulted in a complete suppression of the stimulatory action of FSH on GSTalpha mRNA levels. Similarly, in Sertoli cells treated with testosterone or its non-aromatizable metabolite dihydrotestosterone (100 ng/ml, 24 h), TNFalpha reduced the hormone-stimulated GSTalpha mRNA and protein levels. TNFalpha inhibited basal GSTalpha expression without affecting mRNA stability. Indeed, the decay curves (mRNA half-life time=18 h) for the GSTalpha basal mRNA levels in Sertoli cells was similar in the absence or presence of TNFalpha (10 ng/ml, 48 h). Testosterone increased GSTalpha mRNA without affecting the enzyme mRNA stability. TNFalpha antagonized the androgen-stimulated GSTalpha mRNA levels without affecting the enzyme mRNA stability, suggesting that the interaction between the androgen and the cytokine is mostly exerted at a transcriptional level. FSH increased GSTalpha mRNA levels through an increase in mRNA stability (increased mRNA half-life times to 119 h). TNFalpha antagonized the stimulatory effect of FSH on GSTalpha mRNA levels by antagonizing the stabilizing effect exerted by the hormone on GSTalpha mRNA. Together, these results suggest that the increase in the cytokine levels within the testis would alter the detoxification processes against genotoxic products during spermatogenesis.