Expression profiling of human fetal cytosolic sulfotransferases involved in steroid and thyroid hormone metabolism and in detoxification

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2005 Aug 30;240(1-2):32-42. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2005.06.003.


Protection against chemical insult is essential for normal development of the fetus, however many detoxification enzymes are poorly expressed during fetal development. A major exception is the sulfotransferase (SULT) family, which appears to be widely expressed in the developing human. These enzymes also play a key role in biosynthesis and homeostasis of a number of hormones, including estrogens and iodothyronines. We therefore examined the enzyme activity, protein and mRNA expression of SULT 1A, 1B, 1C, 1E and 2A families in a variety of human fetal and adult tissues. Our results show that these SULTs are expressed in the human fetus, with most present at levels equivalent to or higher than the adult. As there are no isoform-selective substrates for SULTs 1B1 and 1C2 we used immunoblot analysis to show for the first time expression of SULT1B1 at high levels in fetal small intestine, and expression of SULT1C2 in fetal liver, kidney and small intestine. SULT1C2 was not expressed in adult liver or colon. Sulfotransferase expression in the developing fetus is therefore more widespread than in the adult, and this has significant implication for our understanding of human developmental physiology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cytosol / enzymology
  • Fetus / cytology
  • Fetus / enzymology*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sulfotransferases / genetics
  • Sulfotransferases / metabolism*
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution / genetics


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Sulfotransferases