Esterification of vertebrate-like steroids in the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica)

Gemma Janer, Sonia Mesia-Vela, Margy L. Wintermyer, Keith R. Cooper, Fred C. Kauffman, Cinta Porte

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The esterification of two model vertebrate steroid hormones - estradiol (E2) and dehidroepiandrosterone (DHEA) - was studied in the oyster Crassostrea virginica. The activity of acyl-CoA:steroid acyltransferase was characterized in microsomal fractions isolated from oyster digestive glands. The apparent K m and Vmax values changed with the fatty acid acyl-CoA used (C20:4, C18:2, C18:1, C16:1, C18:0 or C16:0), and were in the range of 9-17 μM, and 35-74 pmol/min/mg protein for E2, and in the range of 45-120 μM, and 30-182 pmol/min/mg protein for DHEA. Kinetic parameters were also assessed in gonadal tissue. The enzyme saturated at similar concentrations, although conjugation rates were lower than in digestive gland. Preliminary data shows that tributyltin (TBT) in the low μM range (1-50) strongly inhibits E2 and DHEA esterification, the esterification of E2 being more sensitive to inhibition than that of DHEA. Overall, results indicate that apolar conjugation occurs in oysters, in both digestive gland and gonads, at a very similar rate to mammals, suggesting that this is a well conserved conjugation pathway during evolution. Esterification, together with other mechanisms, can modulate endogenous steroid levels in C. virginica, and might be a target for endocrine disrupters, such as TBT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-484
Number of pages4
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Issue number2-5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


  • Crassostrea virginica
  • DHEA
  • Digestive gland
  • Esterification
  • Estradiol
  • Gonad

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