The fundamental framework of steroidogenesis is similar across steroidogenic cells, especially in initial mitochondrial steps.
For instance, the START domain containing protein-mediated cholesterol transport to the mitochondria, and its conversion to pregnenolone by the enzyme P450scc, is conserved across steroidogenic cells. The enzyme P450scc localizes to the inner mitochondrial membrane, which makes the mitochondria essential for steroidogenesis. Despite this commonality, mitochondrial structure, number, and dynamics vary substantially between different steroidogenic cell types, indicating implications beyond pregnenolone biosynthesis.
This review aims to focus on the growing roles of mitochondria, autophagy and lipophagy in cholesterol uptake, trafficking and homeostasis in steroidogenic cells and consequently in steroidogenesis. We will focus on these aspects in the context of the physiological need for different steroid hormones and cell-intrinsic inherent features in different steroidogenic cell types beyond mitochondria as a mere site for the beginning of steroidogenesis.
The overall goal is to provide an authentic and comprehensive review on the expanding role of steroidogenic cell-intrinsic processes in cholesterol homeostasis and steroidogenesis, and to bring attention to the scientific community working in this field on these promising advancements. Moreover, we will discuss a novel mitochondrial player, prohibitin, and its potential role in steroidogenic mitochondria and cells, and consequently, in steroidogenesis.