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FM Rogerson, JG LeHoux, A Lefebre, and JI Mason

Complementary DNAs encoding the hamster type 2 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/delta 5-->4 isomerase were isolated from liver and kidney cDNA libraries. Nine clones were isolated containing identical coding and 3' untranslated sequences. However, six of the clones contained a 68-nucleotide stretch in the 5' untranslated region that was missing in the other three clones. Primers were designed to flank this region and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed on hamster liver and adrenal RNA. Two PCR products were amplified of the predicted molecular sizes and with the expected sequence. Primers were then designed to amplify sequences encompassing this region from hamster genomic DNA. Sequencing of the resultant PCR products demonstrated that the 68-nucleotide stretch missing in some transcripts corresponded exactly to the second of three exons identified. We conclude that the 5' untranslated region of this mRNA is transcribed from at least three exons, and that the sequence of the second of these exons is spliced out of some of the RNA transcripts.

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FM Rogerson, J Courtemanche, A Fleury, Head JR, JG LeHoux, and JI Mason

Western blot analyses of various hamster tissues reveal high levels of expression of 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3 beta-HSD) in adrenal and liver, and moderate levels of expression in kidney. The expression in liver is sexually dimorphic; very high levels of protein are observed in adult male liver but very low levels are seen in the female liver. Three distinct cDNAs encoding isoforms of 3 beta-HSD were isolated from hamster cDNA libraries. The type 1 isoform is a high-affinity dehydrogenase/isomerase expressed in adrenal and male kidney. The type 2 isoform is also a high-affinity dehydrogenase/isomerase expressed in kidney and male liver. The type 3 enzyme is a 3-ketosteroid reductase expressed predominantly in kidney. Sequencing of the clones showed that all three are structurally very similar, although types 1 and 2 share the greatest degree of similarity. Immunohistochemical staining for 3 beta-HSD in the adrenal was found throughout the adrenal cortex. In the kidney staining was confined to tubules, and in the liver, heavy staining was found in hepatocytes. The cloning of cDNAs for 3 beta-HSD from the liver and kidney should help in elucidating the function of this enzyme in these tissues.

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FM Rogerson, YZ Yao, BJ Smith, N Dimopoulos, and PJ Fuller

Spironolactone is a mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonist in clinical use. The compound has a very low affinity for the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Determinants of binding specificity of spironolactone to the MR were investigated using chimeras created between the ligand-binding domains (LBDs) of the MR and the GR. These chimeras had previously been used to investigate aldosterone binding specificity to the MR. Spironolactone was able to compete strongly for [(3)H]-aldosterone and [(3)H]-dexamethasone binding to a chimera containing amino acids 804-874 of the MR, and weakly for [(3)H]-dexamethasone binding to a chimera containing amino acids 672-803 of the MR. Amino acids 804-874 were also critical for aldosterone binding specificity. Models of the MR LBD bound to aldosterone and spironolactone were created based on the crystal structure of the progesterone receptor LBD. The ligand-binding pocket of the MR LBD model consisted of 23 amino acids and was predominantly hydrophobic in nature. Analysis of this model in light of the experimental data suggested that spironolactone binding specificity is not governed by amino acids in the ligand-binding pocket.