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Methods Enzymol. 2005;400:165-91.

Vitamin D receptor regulation of the steroid/bile acid sulfotransferase SULT2A1.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Medicine, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and South Texas Veterans Health Care System, USA.


SULT2A1 is a sulfo-conjugating phase II enzyme expressed at very high levels in the liver and intestine, the two major first-pass metabolic tissues, and in the steroidogenic adrenal tissue. SULT2A1 acts preferentially on the hydroxysteroids dehydroepiandrosterone, testosterone/dihydrotestosterone, and pregnenolone and on cholesterol-derived amphipathic sterol bile acids. Several therapeutic drugs and other xenobiotics, which include xenoestrogens, are also sulfonated by this cytosolic steroid/bile acid sulfotransferase. Nonsteroid nuclear receptors with key roles in the metabolism and detoxification of endobiotics and xenobiotics, such as bile acid-activated farnesoid X receptor, xenobiotic-activated pregnane X receptor and constitutive androstane receptor, and lipid-activated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha, mediate transcription induction of SULT2A1 in the enterohepatic system. The ligand-activated vitamin D receptor (VDR) is another nuclear receptor that stimulates SULT2A1 transcription, and the regulatory elements in human, mouse, and rat promoters directing this induction have been characterized. Given that bile acid sulfonation is catalyzed exclusively by SULT2A1 and that the 3alpha-sulfate of the highly toxic lithocholic acid is a major excretory metabolite in humans, we speculate that a role for the VDR pathway in SULT2A1 expression may have emerged to shield first-pass tissues from the cytotoxic effects of a bile acid overload arising from disrupted sterol homeostasis triggered by endogenous and exogenous factors.

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