3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in tissues of the human fetus determined with 5α-androstane-3β,17β-diol and dehydroepiandrosterone as substrates

Leon Milewich, Cynthia E. Shaw, J. Ian Mason, Bruce R. Carr, Charles H. Blomquist, James L. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

3β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD)/Δ5→4-isomerase activity in steroidogenic tissues is required for the synthesis of biologically active steroids. Previously, by use of dehydroepiandrosterone (3β-hydroxy-5-androsten-17-one, DHEA) as substrate, it was established that in addition to steroidogenic tissues 3β-HSD/Δ5→4-isomerase activity also is expressed in extraglandular tissues of the human fetus. In the present study, we attempted to determine whether the C-5,C-6-double bond of DHEA serves to influence 3β-HSD activity. For this purpose, we compared the efficiencies of a 3β-hydroxy-5-ene steroid (DHEA) and a 3β-hydroxy-5α-reduced steroid (5α-androstane-3β,17β-diol, 5α-A-diol) as substrates for the enzyme. The apparent Michaelis constant (Km) for 5α-A-diol in midtrimester placenta, fetal liver, and fetal skin tissues was at least one order of magnitude higher than that for DHEA, viz the apparent Km of placental 3β-HSD for 5α-A-diol was in the range of 18 to 40 μmol/l (n = 3) vs 0.45 to 4 μmol/l for DHEA (n = 3); for the liver enzyme, 17 μmol/l for 5α-A-diol and 0.60 μmol/l for DHEA, and for the skin enzyme 14 and 0.18 μmol/l, respectively. Moreover, in 13 human fetal tissues evaluated the maximal velocities obtained with 5α-A-diol as substrate were higher than those obtained with DHEA. A similar finding in regard to Kms and rates of product formation was obtained by use of purified placental 3β-HSD with DHEA, pregnenolone, and 3β-hydroxy-5α-androstan-17-one (epiandrosterone) as substrates: the Km of 3β-HSD for DHEA was 2.8 μmol/l, for pregnenolone 1.9 μmol/l, and for epiandrosterone 25 μmol/l. The specific activity of the purified enzyme with pregnenolone as substrate was 27 nmol/mg protein·min and, with epiandrosterone, 127 nmol/mg protein·min. With placental homogenate as the source of 3β-HSD, DHEA at a constant level of 5 μmol/l behaved as a competitive inhibitor when the radiolabeled substrate, [3H]5α-A-diol, was present in concentrations of 20 to 60 μmol/l, but a lower substrate concentrations the inhibition was of the mixed type; similar results were obtained with [3H]DHEA as the substrate at variable concentrations in the presence of a fixed concentration of 5α-A-diol (40 μmol/l). These findings are indicative that both steroids bind to a common site on the enzyme, however, the binding affinity for these steroids appear to differ markedly as suggested by the respective Kms. Studies of inactivation of purified placental 3β-HSD/Δ5→4-isomerase by an irreversible inhibitor, viz 5,10-secoestr-4-yne-3,10,17-trione, were suggestive that the placental protein adopts different conformations depending on whether the steroidal substrate has a 5α-configuration, e.g. epiandrosterone, or a C-5,C-6-double bond e.g. DHEA or pregnenolone. The lower rates of product formation obtained with placenta and fetal tissues by use of 3β-hydroxy-5-ene steroids as substrates when compared with those obtained with 3β-hydroxy-5α-reduced steroids may be explained by a combination of factors, including: (i) inhibition of 3β-HSD activity by end products of metabolism of 3β-hydroxy-5-ene steroids, e.g. 4-androstene-3,17-dione formed with DHEA as substrate; (ii) higher binding affinity of the enzyme for 3β-hydroxy-5-ene steroids-and possibly for their 3-oxo-5-ene metabolites; (iii) lack of a requirement for the isomerization step with 5α-reduced steroids as substrates, and (iv) the possible presence in fetal tissues of an enzyme with 3β-HSD activity only (i.e. no Δ5→4-isomerase).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-537
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Volume45
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1993

    Fingerprint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

Cite this