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J Bacteriol. 2006 Feb;188(3):1191-5.

Mammalian steroid hormones are substrates for the major RND- and MFS-type tripartite multidrug efflux pumps of Escherichia coli.

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Division of Microbiology, National Center for Toxicological Research, 3900 NCTR Drive, Jefferson, AR 72079-9502, USA.


A steroid-hormone-dependent growth suppression was observed in Escherichia coli efflux-deficient backgrounds containing mutations in the major RND- and MFS-type tripartite multidrug efflux systems, AcrAB-TolC and EmrAB-TolC, respectively. In addition to their previously known natural steroid spectrum, which includes bile acids, both systems were shown to transport the hormones estradiol and progesterone, whereas hydrocortisone served as a substrate of only AcrAB-TolC. Furthermore, at least two other RND-type pumps, YhiV and AcrD, were capable of transporting such hormones when overexpressed on plasmid vectors (with some demonstrable specificity observed with AcrD). When this activity was examined in a wild-type background, cell-associated estradiol levels remained largely unaffected by competition with exogenous bile acids and hydrocortisone, in contrast to progesterone, which produced a significant modulation in estradiol uptake.

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