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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1999 Dec 15;71(3-4):123-31.

Correlation between PAP-dependent steroid binding activity and substrate specificity of mouse and human estrogen sulfotransferases.

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  • 1Center for Experimental Therapeutics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


Estrogen sulfotransferase (EST) is a cytosolic enzyme that catalyzes the sulfoconjugation and inactivation of estrogens using 3'-phosphoadenosine-5'-phosphosulfate (PAPS) as an activated sulfate donor. A finding of undetermined significance in the study of EST has been that the guinea pig EST is able to bind pregnenolone and estradiol with high affinity in the presence of PAP, the reaction by-product of the sulfate donor PAPS. This finding has raised the possibility that EST may have other physiological functions independent of its enzymatic activity as a sulfotransferase. To determine if the PAP-dependent steroid binding activity is a common property shared by other estrogen sulfotransferases, we have expressed the mouse and human EST in bacteria and used the purified protein to address this question. We found that, in the presence of PAP, both recombinant mouse and human EST were able to bind estradiol with high affinity but only the human EST was able to bind pregnenolone. In addition, we show that human but not the mouse EST was also able to bind dehydroepiandrosterone, a property that was not described for the guinea pig EST. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the promiscuity of human EST in steroid binding is mirrored by a correspondingly low substrate specificity in its enzymatic activity as a sulfotransferase. Reversely, the lack of stable binding of pregnenolone and dehydroepiandrosterone by the mouse EST is paralleled by a lack of sulfotransferase activity of this enzyme toward these two steroids. Mutagenesis of mouse EST within a domain critical for PAPS binding abolished both its sulfotransferase and PAP-dependent estrogen binding activity. These data suggest that stable binding of steroids such as pregnenolone or estrogen is not an independent property of estrogen sulfotransferases but rather is related to their catalytic activity.

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