Recent analyses of the cytochrome P450 steroid hydroxylases have established a key role for an orphan nuclear receptor, designated steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1), in their coordinate, cell-selective expression. SF-1 was proposed to regulate the steroid hydroxylases by interacting with shared promoter elements in their 5'flanking regions. During mouse embryonic development, SF-1 was expressed from the earliest stages of organogenesis of the steroidogenic tissues, suggesting a key role in steroidogenic cell differentiation. Finally, disruption of the gene encoding SF-1 revealed its essential function in the development of the adrenal glands and gonads and in pituitary gonadotrope function. These studies suggest that SF-1 acts at multiple levels of the reproductive axis to maintain reproductive competence.
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