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Biochimie. 2020 Mar;170:106-117. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2019.12.012. Epub 2019 Dec 27.

Multiple catalytic activities of human 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 7 respond differently to inhibitors.

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Department of Science and Drug Technology, University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 9, 10125, Turin, Italy.
Laboratory of Medicinal Chemistry, CHU de Québec - Research Centre and Université Laval, 2705, Boulevard Laurier T-4-50 Québec, G1V 4G2, Canada.
Department of Science and Drug Technology, University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 9, 10125, Turin, Italy. Electronic address:


Cholesterol biosynthesis is a multistep process in mammals that includes the aerobic removal of three methyl groups from the intermediate lanosterol, one from position 14 and two from position 4. During the demethylations at position 4, a 3-ketosteroid reductase catalyses the conversion of both 4-methylzymosterone and zymosterone to 4-methylzymosterol and zymosterol, respectively, restoring the alcoholic function of lanosterol, which is also maintained in cholesterol. Unlike other eukaryotes, mammals also use the same enzyme as an estrone reductase that can transform estrone (E1) into estradiol (E2). This enzyme, named 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 7 (HSD17B7), is therefore a multifunctional protein in mammals, and one that belongs to both the HSD17B family, which is involved in steroid-hormone metabolism, and to the family of post-squalene cholesterol biosynthesis enzymes. In the present study, a series of known inhibitors of human HSD17B7's E1-reductase activity have been assayed for potential inhibition against 3-ketosteroid reductase activity. Surprisingly, the assayed compounds lost their inhibition activity when tested in HepG2 cells that were incubated with radiolabelled acetate and against the recombinant overexpressed human enzyme incubated with 4-methylzymosterone (both radiolabelled and not). Preliminary kinetic analyses suggest a mixed or non-competitive inhibition on the E1-reductase activity, which is in agreement with Molecular Dynamics simulations. These results raise questions about the mechanism(s) of action of these possible inhibitors, the enzyme dynamic regulation and the interplay between the two activities.


17β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases; 4-Methylzymosterone; HSD17B7; Inhibitors; Molecular dynamics; Steroids

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of competing interest The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

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