The human hydroxysteroid SULT (sulphotransferase) 2B1 subfamily consists of two isoforms, SULT2B1a and SULT2B1b. These two isoenzymes are transcribed from the same gene by alternative splicing of their first exons and share 94% amino acid sequence identity. The SULT2B1 isoforms are highly selective for the sulphation of 3β-hydroxysteroids. Immunoblot analysis of SULT2B1 expression in several human tissues indicates the presence of only SULT2B1b protein. Immunoreactive SULT2B1b protein was detected in human prostate, skin, placenta and lung tissue. SULT2B1b mRNA expression was detected in RNA isolated from term placenta, normal prostate, prostate carcinoma, benign prostate hyperplasia, LNCaP prostate cancer cells, breast cancer specimens and MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Immunohistochemical localization of SULT2B1b, in terms placental and prostate tissues, detected it in nuclei of placental syncytiotrophoblasts and cytoplasm of epithelial cells in prostate tissues. Immunoreactive and catalytically active SULT2B1b was identified in nuclei isolated from term human placenta. Also SULT2B1b was capable of translocating to nuclei in BeWo placental cells after stable transfection and differentiation. In contrast, immunohistochemical analysis of human prostate showed only cytosolic localization of SULT2B1b in the basal and luminal prostate epithelial cells. SULT2B1b was not detected in isolated nuclei from LNCaP prostate cancer cells but was present in the cytosolic fraction. Differential subcellular localization of SULT2B1b in prostate and placenta suggests that SULT2B1b may be differentially regulated and have different physiological functions in these two hormonally responsive human tissues.

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