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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2001 Jan 22;171(1-2):137-49.

Structure-function aspects and inhibitor design of type 5 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (AKR1C3).

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3620 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6084, USA.


17beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17beta-HSD) type 5 has been cloned from human prostate and is identical to type 2 3alpha-HSD and is a member of the aldo-keto reductase (AKR) superfamily; it is formally AKR1C3. In vitro the homogeneous recombinant enzyme expressed in Escherichia coli functions as a 3-keto-, 17-keto- and 20-ketosteroid reductase and as a 3alpha-, 17beta- and 20alpha-hydroxysteroid oxidase. The enzyme will reduce 5alpha-DHT, Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione, estrone and progesterone to produce 3alpha-androstanediol, testosterone, 17beta-estradiol and 20alpha-hydroxprogesterone, respectively. It will also oxidize 3alpha-androstanediol, testosterone, 17beta-estradiol and 20alpha-hydroxyprogesterone to produce 5alpha-androstane-3,17-dione, Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione, and progesterone, respectively. Many of these properties are shared by the related AKR1C1, AKR1C2 and AKR1C4 isoforms. RT-PCR shows that AKR1C3 is dominantly expressed in the human prostate and mammary gland. Examination of k(cat)/K(m) for these reactions indicates that as a reductase it prefers 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone and 5alpha-androstane-3,17-dione as substrates to Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione, suggesting that in the prostate it favors the formation of inactive androgens. Its concerted reductase activity may, however, lead to a pro-estrogenic state in the breast since it will convert estrone to 17beta-estradiol; convert Delta(4)-androstene-3,17-dione to testosterone (which can be aromatized to 17beta-estradiol); and it will reduce progesterone to its inactive metabolite 20alpha-hydroxyprogesterone. Drawing on detailed structure-function analysis of the related rat 3alpha-HSD (AKR1C9), which shares 69% sequence identity with AKR1C3, it is predicted that AKR1C3 catalyzes an ordered bi bi mechanism, that the rate determining step is k(chem), and that an oxyanion prevails in the transition state. Based on these relationships steroidal-based inhibitors that compete with the steroid product would be desirable since they would act as uncompetitive inhibitors. With regards to transition state analogs steroid carboxylates and pyrazoles may be preferred while 3alpha, 17beta or 20alpha-spiro-oxiranes may act as mechanism-based inactivators.

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