Glucuronidation is a major pathway of androgen metabolism and is catalyzed by UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes. UGT2B15 and UGT2B17 are 95% identical in primary structure, and are expressed in steroid target tissues where they conjugate C19 steroids. Despite the similarities, their regulation of expression are different; however, the promoter region and genomic structure of only the UGT2B17 gene have been characterizedX to date. To isolate the UGT2B15 gene and other novel steroid-conjugating UGT2B genes, eight P-1-derived artificial chromosomes (PAC) clones varying in length from 30 kb to 165 kb were isolated. The entire UGT2B15 gene was isolated and characterized from the PAC clone 21598 of 165 kb. The UGT2B15 and UGT2B17 genes are highly conserved, are both composed of six exons spanning approximately 25 kb, have identical exon sizes and have identical exon-intron boundaries. The homology between the two genes extend into the 5'-flanking region, and contain several conserved putative cis-acting elements including Pbx-1, C/EBP, AP-1, Oct-1 and NF/kappaB. However, transfection studies revealed differences in basal promoter activity between the two genes, which correspond to regions containing non-conserved potential elements. The high degree of homology in the 5'-flanking region between the two genes is lost upstream of -1662 in UGT2B15, and suggests a site of genetic recombination involved in duplication of UGT2B genes. Fluorescence in situ hybridization mapped the UGT2B15 gene to chromosome 4q13.3-21.1. The other PAC clones isolated contain exons from the UGT2B4, UGT2B11 and UGT2B17 genes. Five novel exons, which are highly homologous to the exon 1 of known UGT2B genes, were also identified; however, these exons contain premature stop codons and represent the first recognized pseudogenes of the UGT2B family. The localization of highly homologous UGT2B genes and pseudogenes as a cluster on chromosome 4q13 reveals the complex nature of this gene locus, and other novel homologous UGT2B genes encoding steroid conjugating enzymes are likely to be found in this region of the genome.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.