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J Clin Invest. 1992 Jan;89(1):293-300.

Genetic and pharmacological evidence for more than one human steroid 5 alpha-reductase.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235.


The enzyme steroid 5 alpha-reductase catalyzes the conversion of testosterone into the more potent androgen, dihydrotestosterone, and impairment of this reaction causes a form of male pseudohermaphroditism in which genetic males differentiate predominantly as phenotypic females. We previously isolated cDNA clones that encode a human steroid 5 alpha-reductase enzyme. Here, we report molecular and genetic studies demonstrating that the gene encoding this cDNA is normal in subjects with the genetic disease steroid 5 alpha-reductase deficiency. We further show that in contrast to the major steroid 5 alpha-reductase in the prostate and cultured skin fibroblasts, the cDNA-encoded enzyme exhibits a neutral to basic pH optima and is much less sensitive to inhibition by the 4-aza steroid, finasteride (MK-906). The results provide genetic, biochemical, and pharmacological support for the existence of at least two steroid 5 alpha-reductase isozymes in man.

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