The properties of the UDP-glucuronyltransferase(s) of guinea-pig liver that catalyse the synthesis of steroid glucuronides were examined. There are many similarities between apparently different substrate-specific forms of these enzymes in that all are activated by bivalent metal ions, and all contain at least 2 thiol groups important for enzyme activity. On the other hand, there are significant differences between the enzymes conjugating steroids and those conjugating non-steroids. Only the latter are activated by UDP-N-acetylglucosamine, which enhances their relatively poor affinity for UDP-glucuronic acid. The steroid-conjugating forms of UDP-glucuronyltransferase are not activated by UDP-N-acetylglucosamine and have relatively high apparent affinities for UDP-glucuronic acid. The rate of glucuronidation of testosterone was inhibited by treatment with phospholipase A. Treatment with cholate or Triton X-100 did not enhance the rates of glucuronidation of any steroid tested. The data indicate several similarities between different forms of UDP-glucuronyltransferase, suggesting that there is a large family of related proteins. At the same time there are important differences in the parameters that modulate the rates of different glucuronidation reactions.

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