Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase HSD1L is localised to the pituitary-gonadal axis of primates

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Steroid hormones play clinically important and specific regulatory roles in the development, growth, metabolism, reproduction and brain function in human. The type 1 and 2 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzymes (11β-HSD1 and 2) have key roles in the pre-receptor modification of glucocorticoids allowing aldosterone regulation of blood pressure, control of systemic fluid and electrolyte homeostasis and modulation of integrated metabolism and brain function. Although the activity and function of 11β-HSDs is thought to be understood, there exists an open reading frame for a distinct 11βHSD-like gene; HSD11B1L, which is present in human, non-human primate, sheep, pig and many other higher organisms, whereas an orthologue is absent in the genomes of mouse, rat and rabbit. We have now characterised this novel HSD11B1L gene as encoded by 9 exons and analysis of EST library transcripts indicated the use of two alternate ATG start sites in exons 2 and 3, and alternate splicing in exon 9. Relatively strong HSD11B1L gene expression was detected in human, non-human primate and sheep tissue samples from the brain, ovary and testis. Analysis in non-human primates and sheep by immunohistochemistry localised HSD11B1L protein to the cytoplasm of ovarian granulosa cells, testis Leydig cells, and gonadatroph cells in the anterior pituitary. Intracellular localisation analysis in transfected human HEK293 cells showed HSD1L protein within the endoplasmic reticulum and sequence analysis suggests that similar to 11βHSD1 it is membrane bound. The endogenous substrate of this third HSD enzyme remains elusive with localisation and expression data suggesting a reproductive hormone as a likely substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-499
Number of pages11
JournalEndocrine Connections
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Gonads
  • Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases
  • Ovary
  • Pituitary
  • Testis

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