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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2003 Jan 1;409(1):145-52.

Ovine steroid 17alpha-hydroxylase cytochrome P450: characteristics of the hydroxylase and lyase activities of the adrenal cortex enzyme.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.


The steroid 17-hydroxylase cytochrome P450 (CYP17) found in mammalian adrenal and gonadal tissues typically exhibits not only steroid 17-hydroxylase activity but also C-17,20-lyase activity. These two reactions, catalyzed by CYP17, allow for the biosynthesis of the glucocorticoids in the adrenal cortex, as a result of the 17-hydroxylase activity, and for the biosynthesis of androgenic C(19) steroids in the adrenal cortex and gonads as a result of the additional lyase activity. A major difference between species with regard to adrenal steroidogenesis resides in the lyase activity of CYP17 toward the hydroxylated intermediates and in the fact that the secretion of C(19) steroids takes place, in some species, exclusively in the gonads. Ovine CYP17 expressed in HEK 293 cells converts progesterone to 17-hydroxyprogesterone and pregnenolone to dehydroepiandrosterone via 17-hydroxypregnenolone. In ovine adrenal microsomes, minimal if any lyase activity was observed toward either progesterone or pregnenolone. Others have demonstrated the involvement of cytochrome b(5) in the augmentation of CYP17 lyase activity. Although the presence of cytochrome b(5) in ovine adrenocortical microsomes was established, ovine adrenal microsomes did not convert pregnenolone or 17-hydroxypregnenolone to dehydroepiandrosterone. Furthermore the addition of purified ovine cytochrome b(5) to ovine adrenal microsomes did not promote lyase activity. We conclude that, in the ovine adrenal cortex, factors other than cytochrome b(5) influence the lyase activity of ovine CYP17.

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