ABSTRACT: Steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1), an orphan nuclear receptor, initially was isolated as a key regulator of the tissue-specific expression of the cytochrome P450 steroid hydroxylases. Thereafter, analyses of sites of SF-1 expression during mouse embryological development hinted at considerably expanded roles for SF-1, roles that were strikingly confirmed through the analyses of SF-1 knockout mice. These SF-1 knockout mice exhibited adrenal and gonadal agenesis, associated with male-to-female sex reversal of their internal and external genitalia and death from adrenocortical insufficiency. These findings showed unequivocally that SF-1 is essential for the embryonic survival of the primary steroidogenic organs. SF-1 knockout mice also had impaired pituitary expression of gonadotropins and agenesis of the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH), establishing that SF-1 regulates reproductive function at all three levels of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis. This article reviews the experiments that have defined these essential roles of SF-1 in endocrine development and highlights important areas for future studies.
The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.