Erythrocyte ghosts were loaded with pancreatic DNase I and fused with Y-1 adrenal tumor cells to test the possibility that this enzyme might inhibit the steroidogenic responses of the cells to ACTH and cyclic AMP. Fusion of erythrocyte ghosts loaded with DNase I, but not those containing albumin, ovalbumin, boiled DNase I, or DNase I with excess G-actin, inhibited the increase in production of 20 alpha-dihydroprogesterone produced by ACTH and dibutyryl cyclic AMP; inhibition was concentration-dependent with 50% inhibition by 3 X 10(7) molecules of DNase I per cell. It was found that inhibition by DNase I was exerted at the step in the steroidogenic pathway at which cholesterol is transported to mitochondria where steroidogenesis begins. This was shown by measuring transport of cholesterol into the inner mitochondrial membrane, by measuring the production of pregnenolone by isolated mitochondria and by demonstrating that DNase I was without effect on the conversion of pregnenolone to 20 alpha-dihydroprogesterone (an end-product of steroid synthesis). The actin content of Y-1 cells was measured by two methods based upon inhibition of DNase I and by SDS gels following centrifugation. The cells were found to contain 2-3 X 10(7) molecules of actin per cell of which two-thirds is present as G-actin. Since DNase I is known to bind to G-actin to give a one to one complex, these and other findings suggest that at least some of the G-actin in the cells may be necessary for the steroidogenic responses to ACTH and cyclic AMP.

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