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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Nov;127(3-5):282-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2011.08.008. Epub 2011 Aug 27.

Glucuronidation of the steroid enantiomers ent-17β-estradiol, ent-androsterone and ent-etiocholanolone by the human UDP-glucuronosyltransferases.

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Centre for Drug Research, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Steroids enantiomers are interesting compounds for detailed exploration of drug metabolizing enzymes, such as the UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs). We have now studied the glucuronidation of the enantiomers of estradiol, androsterone and etiocholanolone by the 19 human UGTs of subfamilies 1A, 2A and 2B. The results reveal that the pattern of human UGTs of subfamily 2B that glucuronidate ent-17β-estradiol, particularly 2B15 and 2B17, resembles the glucuronidation of epiestradiol (17α-estradiol) rather than 17β-estradiol, the main physiological estrogen. The UGTs of subfamilies 1A and 2A exhibit higher degree of regioselectivity than enantioselectivity in the conjugation of these estradiols, regardless of whether the activity is primarily toward the non-chiral site, 3-OH (UGT1A1, UGT1A3, UGT1A7, UGT1A8 and, above all, UGT1A10), or the 17-OH (UGT1A4). In the cases of etiocholanolone and androsterone, glucuronidation of the ent-androgens, like the conjugation of the natural androgens, is mainly catalyzed by UGTs of subfamilies 2A and 2B. Nevertheless, the glucuronidation of ent-etiocholanolone and ent-androsterone by both UGT2B7 and UGT2B17 differs considerably from their respective activity toward the corresponding endogenous androgens, whereas UGT2A1-catalyzed conjugation is much less affected by the stereochemistry differences. Kinetic analyses reveal that the K(m) value of UGT2A1 for ent-estradiol is much higher than the corresponding value in the other two high activity enzymes, UGT1A10 and UGT2B7. Taken together, the results highlight large enantioselectivity differences between individual UGTs, particularly those of subfamily 2B.

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