5α-Reductases are crucial enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of dihydrotestosterone, the most potent natural androgen. To date, three types of 5α-reductases, chronologically named types 1, 2 and 3 5α-reductases (SRD5a-1, 2 and 3) have been described. In the present paper, we characterized the activity and compared the mRNA expression levels of SRD5a-3 with those of SRD5a-1 and 2 in various human tissues, and determined its sensitivity to finasteride and dutasteride. We have established HEK-293 cell line that stably expressed SRD5a-3 for studying its activity and the inhibitory effect of finasteride, using [14C]labeled steroids. mRNA expression levels were quantified using real-time PCR in many male and female human tissues including the prostate, adipose tissue, mammary gland, as well as breast and prostate cancer cell lines. Incubation of HEK-SRD5a-3 cells with [14C]4-androstenedione and [14C]testosterone allowed us to show that SRD5a-3 can catalyze very efficiently both substrates 4-androstenedione and testosterone into 5α-androstanedione and dihydrotestosterone, respectively. We observed that the affinity of the enzyme for 4-androstenedione is higher than for testosterone. The activity of SRD5a-3 and SRD5a-2 are similarly sensitive to finasteride, whereas dutasteride is a much more potent inhibitor of SRD5a-3 than SRD5a-2. Tissue distribution analysis shows that SRD5a-3 mRNA expression levels are higher than those of SRD5a-1 and SRD5a-2 in 20 analyzed tissues. In particular, it is highly expressed in the skin, brain, mammary gland and breast cancer cell lines, thus suggesting that SRD5a-3 could play an important role in the production of androgens in these and other peripheral tissues.
©2010 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York