Douglas M. Stocco, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President for Research
Dr. Stocco's research program is interested in the manner in which the biosynthesis of the steroid hormones in steroid producing tissues is controlled by trophic hormones secreted from the brain. It had been demonstrated in the early 1960's that hormone-induced synthesis of steroids had an absolute requirement for the appearance of a new protein in steroid producing tissues. The identification of this protein had remained elusive and following several years of work, this protein was purified, its cDNA cloned and its role in the regulation of steroidogenesis unequivocally demonstrated in Dr. Stocco's laboratory. This protein was named the Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory or StAR protein, and the results of this work were first published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry in 1994. The cloning of the StAR cDNA then enabled Dr. Stocco and a group of his colleagues at other universities to determine that a potentially fatal disease known as Congenital Lipoid Adrenal Hyperplasia, was caused by mutations in the Star gene. The discovery of the StAR protein has led to a re-emergence of interest in this area and to date nearly 1000 publications have appeared world-wide in which StAR was a significant portion of the study. Since that time, Dr. Stocco has been interested in the mechanism of action of StAR, the regulation of its expression and the nature of the signal transduction pathways involved in StAR expression.
The crystal structure of a single StAR protein is illustrated below: