Synthesis of adrenal steroid hormones from cholesterol entails the actions of only five enzymes, four of which are specific forms of cytochrome P450. These cytochrome P450 enzymes have all been isolated and their activities reconstituted in vitro, showing that each enzyme catalyses multiple steroidal conversions. Genes or complementary DNAs have been cloned for human P450scc (the cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme), P450cl7 (17α-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase) and P450c21 (21-hydroxylase). The sequences for microsomal P450cl7 and P450c21 are much more closely related to one another than either is to the sequence for mitochondrial P450scc. Each of these P450 enzymes is encoded by a single human gene; the gene for P450scc lies on chromosome 15, that for P450c 17 lies on chromosome 10, and that for P450c21 lies on chromosome 6. The human, mouse and bovine genomes each have two P450c21 genes. While only one of these is active in mouse and man, both genes may he active in cattle. A wide variety of lesions in the human P450c21 (B) gene causes congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a common genetic disorder. © 1987.
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