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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Structure-function relationships in 3alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases: a comparison of the rat and human isoforms.

3alpha-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (3alpha-HSDs) inactivate steroid hormones in the liver, regulate 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (5alpha-DHT) levels in the prostate, and form the neurosteroid, allopregnanolone in the CNS. Four human 3alpha-HSD isoforms exist and correspond to AKR1C1-AKR1C4 of the aldo-keto reductase (AKR) superfamily. Unlike the related rat 3alpha-HSD (AKR1C9) which is positional and stereospecific, the human enzymes display varying ratios of 3-, 17-, and 20-ketosteroid reductase activity as well as 3alpha-, 17beta-, and 20alpha-hydroxysteroid oxidase activity. Their k(cat) values are 50-100-fold lower than that observed for AKR1C9. Based on their product profiles and discrete tissue localization, the human enzymes may regulate the levels of active androgens, estrogens, and progestins in target tissues. The X-ray crystal structures of AKR1C9 and AKR1C2 (human type 3 3alpha-HSD, bile acid binding protein and peripheral 3alpha-HSD) reveal that the AKR1C2 structure can bind steroids backwards (D-ring in the A-ring position) and upside down (beta-face inverted) relative to the position of a 3-ketosteroid in AKR1C9 and this may account for its functional plasticity. Stopped-flow studies on both enzymes indicate that the conformational changes associated with binding cofactor (the first ligand) are slow; they are similar in both enzymes but are not rate-determining. Instead the low k(cat) seen in AKR1C2 (50-fold less than AKR1C9) may be due to substrate "wobble" at the plastic active site.[1]


  1. Structure-function relationships in 3alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases: a comparison of the rat and human isoforms. Penning, T.M., Jin, Y., Heredia, V.V., Lewis, M. J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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