Leydig cells isolated from adult rats and maintained under defined conditions in culture secrete a protein of molecular weight (Mr) 70 000 which is immunologically similar to chicken thiamin carrier protein (TCP). Synthesis of immunoreactive TCP by these cells is demonstrated by immunoprecipitation of [35S]methionine incorporated, newly synthesized proteins with monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies to chicken TCP. The amount of immunoreactive TCP secreted into the culture supernatant is quantitated by using a specific radioimmunoassay. Under the influence of LH, secretion of immunoreactive TCP is enhanced 3-fold and can be inhibited by up to 70% with aromatase inhibitor (1,4,6-androstatrien-3,17-dione). Cyclic AMP acts as a second messenger in the sequence of events involved in LH-induced elevation of immunoreactive TCP in Leydig cells. The effects of exogenous estradiol-17beta and diethylstilbestrol are comparable in terms of stimulation of secretion of immunoreactive TCP by these cells. Tamoxifen brought about a 70% decrease in the elevated levels of immunoreactive TCP. These results suggest that estrogen mediates immunoreactive TCP induction in hormonally stimulated adult rat Leydig cells.
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