Quantitative appreciation of steroidogenic gene expression in mouse tissues: new roles for type 2 5alpha-reductase, 20alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and estrogen sulfotransferase

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Feb;93(2-5):269-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2005.01.003. Epub 2005 Feb 25.


We have recently developed an improved method for the RealTime PCR quantification of reversed transcribed mRNA (Q_RTPCR) that allows to obtain absolute mRNA expression levels with high sensitivity and accuracy. Using this Q_RTPCR method to assess the mRNA expression levels of genes encoding steroidogenic enzymes in male and female mouse tissues allows us to gain quantitative appreciation of the function of these genes. We could thus identify the existence of two types of steroidogenic tissues: those of classical endocrine glands such as the testis, ovary and adrenals which deliver steroids into the circulation, and in which millions of copies/mug total RNA are detected, and those of peripheral intracrine tissues where steroids are synthesized locally and exert their action at the site where they are produced (prostate, uterus, etc.), and in which the expression level of steroidogenic enzymes is much lower. We also observed an abnormally high expression levels of type 2 5alpha-reductase and 20alpha-HSD in the male and female adrenals, respectively, thus indirectly suggesting new roles for these sex-specific enzymes. On the other hand estrogen sulfotransferase, the enzyme that inactivates estrogen, has been found selectively expressed in male tissues, thus suggesting a role for this enzyme to protect male-specific tissues against estrogenic activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 20-alpha-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cholestenone 5 alpha-Reductase / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genitalia, Male / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase / genetics
  • Steroids / biosynthesis*
  • Sulfotransferases / genetics*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Steroids
  • 20-alpha-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase
  • Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase
  • Cholestenone 5 alpha-Reductase
  • Sulfotransferases
  • estrone sulfotransferase