The mechanisms that lead to the steroidogenic differences in the human fetal adrenal (HFA) and adult adrenal gland are not known. However, gene expression clearly plays a critical role in defining their distinct steroidogenic and structural phenotypes. We used DNA microarrays to compare expression levels of several thousand transcripts between the HFA and adult adrenal gland. Total RNA was isolated from 18 HFA and 12 adult adrenal glands. Samples of total RNA were used to make five pools of poly A+ RNA (mRNA). Gene profiling was done using five independent microarrays that contained between 7075 and 9182 cDNA elements. Sixty-nine transcripts were found to have a greater than 2.5-fold difference in expression between HFA and adult adrenals. The largest differences were observed for transcripts that encode IGF-II (25-fold higher in HFA) and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (24-fold higher in adult). Among the other genes, transcripts related to sterol biosynthesis or to growth and development were higher in the HFA than adult adrenals. Transcripts concerned with cellular immunity and signal transduction were preferentially expressed in the adult adrenal. The vast majority of the 69 transcripts have not been studied with regard to adrenal function. Thus, these gene profiles provide valuable information that could help define the mechanisms that control adrenal function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism