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17 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases catalyze the oxidoreduction of hydroxy/oxo groups at position C17 of steroid hormones, thereby constituting a prereceptor control mechanism of hormone action. At present, 11 different mammalian 17 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases have been identified, catalyzing the cell- and steroid-specific activation and inactivation of estrogens and androgens. The human type 10 17 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17 beta-HSD-10) is a multifunctional mitochondrial enzyme that efficiently catalyzes the oxidative inactivation at C17 of androgens and estrogens. However, it also mediates oxidation of 3 alpha-hydroxy groups of androgens, thereby reactivating androgen metabolites. Finally, it is involved in beta-oxidation of fatty acids by catalyzing the L-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase reaction of the beta-oxidation cycle. These features and expression profiles suggest a critical role of 17 beta-HSD-10 in neurodegenerative and steroid-dependent cancer forms. Since no three-dimensional structure of 17 beta-HSD-10 is available, homology modelling was carried out to understand the molecular basis of these substrate specificities. The structure obtained displays the properties of a one-domain, alpha/beta fold enzyme of the SDR family. The active site is located within a large, hydrophobic cleft, which forms optimal contacts with the different steroid surfaces. The data provide explanations for the substrate specificities toward the various classes of sex steroid hormones. The model is suitable to explore substrate and inhibitor characteristics that may be used in the development of novel strategies in the treatment of degenerative or malignant diseases.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of molecular graphics & modelling

Publication Date





514 - 593


Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


Animals, Humans, 17-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases, Binding Sites, Amino Acid Sequence, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Substrate Specificity, Models, Molecular, Computer Simulation, Molecular Sequence Data