The alternative pathway of fetal androgen synthesis (Homo sapiens)

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AKR1C4P450c17RODHProgesteroneCholesterolDHEAAndrostenedionePregnenolone17β-HSD5α-reductase 13β-HSDAndrosteroneAndrostanediol17-HydroxyallopregnanoloneAndrostanedionePORTestosteroneP450sccDihydrotestosterone17-Hydroxyprogesterone17-hydroxydihydroprogesteroneCytb5STAR3 HSD17-HydroxypregnenoloneAKR1C2/4PORP450c173β-HSD17β-HSD35α-reductase 2PORP450c17P450c17


The development of sexual organs in humans is still not completely understood at the molecular level, controlled through the chromosomal difference between men and women. Steroids related to sexual development can have a temporary or permanent effects. Androgens are the leading compounds differentiating between (among other sexual organs) the internal and external genitalia of men.

Next to the classical pathway of androgen synthesis (see [1]), alternative pathways are known, which make use of either selective expression patterns of isoenzymes or alternate enzymes. As an alternative, a socalled 'backdoor pathway’ can create dihydrotestosterone (DHT), skipping testosterone. Several enzymes between the classical and backdoor pathway are shared, however the later one utilises one unique enzyme, 3α hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 3 (gene: AKR1C2). Even though the relevance of this backdoor pathway for humans is not completely clear yet, mutations in the human AKR1C2 gene can lead to disordered sexual differentiation. This finding would indicate that both the classical and the alternative pathway are needed for normal development of male genitalia in humans.

For more information on androgens, read Hiort (2013 [2]), and for more information on the disease linked to this pathway, please visit Chapter 37 of the book of Blau (ISBN 978-3-642-40337-8).

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  7. Fouad Mansour M, Pelletier M, Tchernof A; ''Characterization of 5α-reductase activity and isoenzymes in human abdominal adipose tissues.''; J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 2016 PubMed Europe PMC
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  9. Blau, Nenad, Duran, Marinus, Gibson, K. Michael, Dionisi-Vici, Carlo; ''Physician's Guidee to the Diagnosis, Treatment, and Follow-Up of Inherited Metabolic Diseases''; ISBN 978-3-642-40337-8, 2014
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  11. Hanukoglu I, Spitsberg V, Bumpus JA, Dus KM, Jefcoate CR; ''Adrenal mitochondrial cytochrome P-450scc. Cholesterol and adrenodoxin interactions at equilibrium and during turnover.''; J Biol Chem, 1981 PubMed Europe PMC
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  13. Bhatt MR, Khatri Y, Rodgers RJ, Martin LL; ''Role of cytochrome b5 in the modulation of the enzymatic activities of cytochrome P450 17α-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase (P450 17A1).''; J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 2017 PubMed Europe PMC
  14. Yoshimoto FK, Gonzalez E, Auchus RJ, Guengerich FP; ''Mechanism of 17α,20-Lyase and New Hydroxylation Reactions of Human Cytochrome P450 17A1: 18O LABELING AND OXYGEN SURROGATE EVIDENCE FOR A ROLE OF A PERFERRYL OXYGEN.''; J Biol Chem, 2016 PubMed Europe PMC
  15. Flück CE, Meyer-Böni M, Pandey AV, Kempná P, Miller WL, Schoenle EJ, Biason-Lauber A; ''Why boys will be boys: two pathways of fetal testicular androgen biosynthesis are needed for male sexual differentiation.''; Am J Hum Genet, 2011 PubMed Europe PMC
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108087view11:53, 28 November 2019FehrhartOntology Term : 'disease pathway' added !
106166view12:06, 16 August 2019MaintBotHMDB identifier normalization
104252view12:18, 12 May 2019EgonwRemoved the RHEA: prefix from the identifier.
104034view17:46, 25 April 2019IreneHemelModified description
103502view14:41, 6 March 2019DeSlAnother lit. ref. update
103501view14:40, 6 March 2019DeSlRemoved weird signs in lit. ref
103500view14:36, 6 March 2019DeSlAdded more lit. refs.
103498view14:25, 6 March 2019DeSlAdded more diseases to PW.
103452view21:40, 1 March 2019DeSlAdded several diseases to PW.
103369view13:37, 24 February 2019EgonwReplaced a secondary ChEBI ID with primary ID.
103281view13:15, 21 February 2019DeSlChanged conversion to modification fot POR catalysed reaction between protein nodes
103280view21:00, 20 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'steroid inherited metabolic disorder' added !
103279view20:58, 20 February 2019DeSlAnnotated missing protein Nodes.
103278view20:51, 20 February 2019DeSlAdded more Rheas for bottom left part.
103277view20:25, 20 February 2019DeSlAdded more Rhea Ids to the right bottom part
103274view17:28, 20 February 2019DeSlAnnotated some more reaction with Rhea (top part), added lit. refs, added first disease node.
103202view16:31, 15 February 2019DeSlModified description
103201view16:29, 15 February 2019DeSlAdded info for POR enzyme
103200view15:58, 15 February 2019DeSlChanged weird symbols to written alpha/beta for enzymes.
103197view15:43, 15 February 2019DeSlAnnotated left top side, added Rhea's, added lit. refs.
103195view15:27, 15 February 2019DeSlModified description
103194view15:27, 15 February 2019DeSlAdded first 2 lit refs
103193view15:23, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'steroid hormone biosynthetic pathway' added !
103192view15:22, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'altered isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway' added !
103191view15:21, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'altered steroid biosynthetic pathway' added !
103190view15:20, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'PW:0000752' removed !
103189view15:19, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'altered cholesterol biosynthetic pathway' added !
103188view15:19, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'steroid metabolic pathway' added !
103187view15:16, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'cholesterol metabolic pathway' added !
103186view15:14, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'steroid hormone metabolic pathway' added !
103184view15:12, 15 February 2019DeSlOntology Term : 'testosterone biosynthetic pathway' added !
103182view15:07, 15 February 2019DeSlModified description
103154view13:07, 15 February 2019ElineSandersNew pathway

External references


View all...
NameTypeDatabase referenceComment
17-HydroxyallopregnanoloneMetaboliteCHEBI:11909 (ChEBI)
17-HydroxypregnenoloneMetaboliteQ2064889 (Wikidata)
17-HydroxyprogesteroneMetaboliteHMDB00374 (HMDB)
17-hydroxydihydroprogesteroneMetaboliteCHEBI:36723 (ChEBI)
17β-HSD3GeneProductENSG00000130948 (Ensembl)
17β-HSDGeneProductENSG00000130948 (Ensembl)
3 HSDProtein
3β-HSDGeneProductENSG00000203859 (Ensembl)
5α-reductase 1GeneProductENSG00000277893 (Ensembl)
5α-reductase 2GeneProductENSG00000277893 (Ensembl)
AKR1C2/4GeneProductENSG00000151632 (Ensembl)
AKR1C4GeneProductENSG00000198610 (Ensembl)
AndrostanediolMetaboliteCHEBI:2713 (ChEBI)
AndrostanedioneMetaboliteCHEBI:2137 (ChEBI)
AndrostenedioneMetaboliteHMDB00053 (HMDB)
AndrosteroneMetaboliteCHEBI:2714 (ChEBI)
CholesterolMetaboliteCHEBI:3659 (ChEBI)
DHEAMetaboliteCHEBI:1723 (ChEBI)
DihydrotestosteroneMetaboliteCHEBI:41876 (ChEBI)
P450c17GeneProductENSG00000148795 (Ensembl)
P450sccGeneProductENSG00000140459 (Ensembl)
PregnenoloneMetaboliteCHEBI:16581 (ChEBI)
ProgesteroneMetaboliteCHEBI:45786 (ChEBI)
STARGeneProductENSG00000147465 (Ensembl)
TestosteroneMetaboliteCHEBI:45798 (ChEBI)

Annotated Interactions

No annotated interactions

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