Characterization of UDP-glucuronosyltransferases active on steroid hormones

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1999 Apr-Jun;69(1-6):413-23. doi: 10.1016/s0960-0760(99)00061-8.


In recent years, the enzymes which are involved in the formation of DHT in steroid target tissues have been well investigated, however, enzymes responsible for the catabolism and elimination of steroids in these tissues, in particular the uridine diphospho-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) family of enzymes, have received much less attention. We have recently demonstrated that human and monkey are unique in having high plasma levels of C19 steroid glucuronides. These circulating conjugates have been proposed to reflect the peripheral conversion of adrenal and gonadal C19 steroids to potent androgens, especially DHT. In humans, the presence of steroid UGT activities is found in the liver and several extrahepatic tissues including the prostate, mammary gland and ovary. In addition, UGT activities were observed in breast and prostate tumor cell lines such as MCF-7 and LNCaP, respectively. In agreement with the presence of steroid conjugating enzymes in extrahepatic tissues, UGT cDNA clones, which encode steroid conjugating proteins, have been isolated from libraries constructed from human and monkey prostate mRNA. The presence of UGT transcripts and proteins in extrahepatic tissues in both species, as determined by Northern blot, ribonuclease protection, specific RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, Western blot and immunocytochemistry analysis, indicate the relevance of steroid glucuronidation in tissues other than the liver. Knowing that both the human prostate and the human prostate cancer LNCaP cell line express steroid metabolizing proteins, including UGT enzymes, regulation of UGT mRNA and protein levels, as well as promoter activity was studied in these cells. The results demonstrate a differential regulation between the two highly related isoforms UGT2B15 and UGT2B17, where only the expression of UGT2B17 was affected following treatments of LNCaP cells with androgens, growth factors or cytokines. Steroid conjugation by UGT enzymes is potentially involved in hormone inactivation in steroid target tissues, thus modifications in UGT expression levels may influence hormonal responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dihydrotestosterone / metabolism*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Glucuronosyltransferase