We have cloned and characterized cDNAs that encode two human hydroxysteroid sulfotransferase (SULT) enzymes, SULT2B1a and SULT2B1b, as well as the single gene that encodes both of these enzymes. The two cDNAs differed at their 5'-termini and had 1050- and 1095-bp open reading frames that encoded 350 and 365 amino acids, respectively. The amino acid sequences encoded by these cDNAs included 'signature sequences' that are conserved in all known cytosolic SULTs. Both cDNAs appeared, on the basis of amino acid sequence analysis, to be members of the hydroxysteroid SULT 'family,' SULT2, but they were only 48% identical in amino acid sequence with the single known member of that family in humans, SULT2A1 (also referred to as DHEA ST). Northern blot analysis demonstrated the presence of SULT2B1 mRNA species approximately 1.4 kb in length in human placenta, prostate, and trachea and - faintly - in small intestine and lung. Expression of the two human SULT2B1 cDNAs in COS-1 cells showed that both of the encoded proteins catalyzed sulfation of the prototypic hydroxysteroid SULT substrate, dehydroepiandrosterone, but both failed to catalyze the sulfate conjugation of 4-nitrophenol or 17β-estradiol, prototypic substrates for the phenol and estrogen SULT subfamilies. Both of these cDNAs were encoded by a single gene, SULT2B1. The locations of most exon-intron splice junctions in SULT2B1 were identical to those of the only other known human hydroxysteroid SULT gene SULT2A1 (previously STD). The divergence in 5'-terminal sequences of the two SULT2B1 cDNAs resulted from alternative transcription initiation prior to different 5' exons, combined with alternative splicing. SULT2B1 mapped to human chromosome band 19q13.3, approximately 500 kb telomeric to the location of SULT2A1.
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