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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1995 Dec;55(5-6):457-64.

The human 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type II enzyme: comparisons with other species and localization to the distal nephron.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Hypertension, Baker Institute of Medical Research, Prahran, Australia.


Effective glucocorticoid inactivation is currently thought to be an indispensable feature of mineralocorticoid target cells. The enzyme 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11 beta-HSD) inactivates glucocorticoids and prevents them from binding to the non-selective mineralocorticoid receptor. In the kidney it is the NAD dependent high affinity isoform (11 beta-HSD2) which is thought to endow specificity on the receptor. The recent cloning of the human, sheep and rabbit 11 beta-HSD2 enzymes permits a comparison of the enzyme from the three species. Human and rabbit enzymes are 87% identical and of similar length, while the human and sheep enzymes have only 75% identity. The last 12 residues in all three species were found to be highly divergent, but most of the ovine dishomology can be accounted for by the deletion of a single nucleotide toward the C-terminus of the protein resulting in a shift in reading frame generating a protein 27 residues longer than the human isoform. Numerous other deletions were also observed in this region of the sheep cDNA sequence. Furthermore, the rabbit cDNA also displayed a large degree of dishomology with the human sequence a short distance downstream from the termination codon. Conserved overlapping cytoplasmic translocation signals were observed in all three species, suggesting a topology whereby the enzyme is anchored into the endoplasmic reticulum by multiple hydrophobic regions in the N-terminus and the bulk of the 11 beta-HSD2 peptide is sited in the cytoplasm. A polyclonal antibody generated against the C-terminus of human 11 beta-HSD2 was used to localize the enzyme within the kidney. A high level of immunoreactive was observed in distal tubules and collecting ducts, localizing the enzyme to the same part of the nephron as the mineralocorticoid receptor. Moderate levels of staining were also seen in vascular smooth muscle cells. These results support the notion that 11 beta-HSD2 is an autocrine protector of the mineralocorticoid receptor and that it plays an important role in cardiovascular homeostatic mechanisms.

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