GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Gregorio Gil, Ph.D.


Cytochrome P-450, Hamsters


Bile acid metabolism is integrally involved in cholesterol homeostasis in mammals because it is the major means by which cholesterol is eliminated from the body. We have undertaken an effort to study the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of bile acid metabolism by isolating and characterizing the cDNA and gene for an enzyme that hydroxylates lithocholic acid (LCA) at position 6β, lithocholic acid 6β-hydroxylase; the first bile acid-induced gene reported. LCA is a very hydrophobic, toxic bile acid formed from chenodeoxycholic acid in the gut lumen upon reduction of the 7α-hydroxy group by microbial enzymes. The proper elimination of LCA is essential for maintenance of the bile acid pool and for prevention of cholestasis which results from LCA precipitating in the cannaculi of the liver when its concentration is high.

The LCA 6β-hydroxylase cDNA was isolated by differential hybridization of hamster liver libraries prepared from animals fed either a cholic acid enriched diet or a cholestipol-rich chow and was named CYP3A10 based on its homology with other cytochrome P450s (P450) in family 3A. We found that CYP3A10 was essentially expressed only in males. A statistical analysis of RNA from young males fed with cholic acid and normal chow showed that the cholic acid induction was about 50% at the RNA level.

We determined the biological nature of the protein encoded by CYP3A10 by expression of the cDNA in COS cells. Microsomes prepared from transfected cells were assayed with LCA as a substrate and found to hydroxylate LCA predominantly at position 6β. We examined whether CYP3A10 could hydroxylate other steroid compounds by assays with testosterone, progesterone and androstenedione and found that, although 6β-hydroxylase (as well as others) activity was observed with all three, LCA was the preferred substrate based on kinetic analysis.

A developmental time course of CYP3A10 expression in males showed little expression before puberty, a striking induction of expression at puberty and a fourfold induction thereafter through adulthood. We then examined the male-specific expression of CYP3A10 in hamster liver. We disrupted the pattern of GH secretion in male hamsters by hypophysectomy, neonatal glutamate treatment and by continuous infusion of GH via osmotic minipumps (to mimic the female pattern of GH secretion) and found no significant effect on CYP3A10 expression. Conversely, in females, hypophysectomy and neonatal glutamate treatment significantly induced CYP3A10 expression 5- to 10-fold. Additionally, when females treated neonatally with glutamate were injected twice daily with GH as adults (to mimic the male pattern of GH secretion), the levels of CYP3A10 expression were not significantly different from those of normal males. These results led us to conclude that the pattern of GH secretion in males does not control the male-specific expression of CYP3A10 but that in females expression can be induced by altering the tonic secretion of GH. No significant effect on CYP3A10 expression was observed by castration of adult males, indicating that circulating androgens were not required for expression. We found that gonadal hormones (e.g. estrogen and progesterone) do not have a suppressive effect on CYP3A10 expression in females since ovariectomy did not induce expression.

Many genes are "imprinted" neonatally by exposure to a given effector for developmental-, tissue- or sexually regulated expression. We investigated whether neonatal androgen exposure was required for male-specific expression of CYP3A10 by castrating hamsters neonatally and determining the level of CYP3A10 expression in adulthood. Our results indicate that androgens are required neonatally for CYP3A10 expression since no expression was observed in neonatally castrated hamsters. We were unable to induce expression in neonatally castrated hamsters by either GH or testosterone injections. These results suggest several notable points 1) that CYP3A10 expression is programmed neonatally by androgen exposure; 2) that androgens exert their effect directly on the liver and not via the hypothalamus; 3) that neither testosterone nor GH can restore CYP3A10 expression when males have not been exposed to androgens neonatally; and 4) that in experimental conditions, females can be induced to express CYP3A10, which indicates that there are two modes for regulating expression: by "imprinting" in males and by GH and testosterone in females.

We are now studying the molecular mechanisms involved in the bile acid-mediated induction and the male-specific expression of CYP3A10. We have cloned approximately 8 kb of 5' flanking DNA from a hamster genomic library and sequenced about 1 kb of proximal DNA. Primer extension and S1 digestion analyses indicate that the mRNA for CYP3A10 has multiple transcription initiation sites clustered about 90 bp from the initiator methionine codon. We have also prepared CYP3A10 promoter/lacZ chimeric constructs to begin delineating the cis-acting elements controlling CYP3A10 expression and regulation. We used H2.35 cells as recipients because they are a mouse hepatocyte cell line that has been transformed with a temperature sensitive SV40. These cells can be grown at the permissive temperature and can be induced to behave like liver cells, the differentiated condition, by switching to a nonpermissive temperature. We have found that the construct with 1 kb of proximal CYP3A10 5' flanking DNA was able to express the reporter gene at higher levels under differentiated conditions, which were consistent with higher expression of an albumin promoter/lacZconstruct, upon switching the cells to the more liver phenotype.

The system characterized and described here is ideally suited for dissecting the molecular details governing bile acid-mediated regulation and sexually dimorphic expression of liver genes. Very little is known about both these very important biological phenomena. Much could be learned about transcriptional regulation of liver genes by investigating the cis-elements and trans-acting factors mediating regulation of CYP3A10 expression.



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