Cholesterol sulfate is a naturally occurring inhibitor of steroidogenesis in isolated rat adrenal mitochondria

X. X. Xu, J. D. Lambeth

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20 Scopus citations


We previously reported (Lambeth, J.D., Xu, X.X., and Glover, M. (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 9181-9188) that exogenously added cholesterol sulfate inhibits the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone in isolated adrenal mitochondria, and does so by affecting intramitochondrial cholesterol movement but not its subsequent metabolism to pregnenolone by cytochrome P-450(scc). We now report that a major kinetic component of the inhibition is noncompetitive with respect to cholesterol, consistent with an allosteric effect at a site other than the substrate binding site of cytochrome P-450(scc). We now also report that cholesterol sulfate is present as an endogenous compound in preparations of adrenal mitochondria. Its content varied from 0.05 to 0.8 nmol/mg protein. Cholesterol sulfate level correlated inversely with the mitochondrial cholesterol side-chain cleavage activity. Endogenous cholesterol sulfate thus appeared to account for the variable rates of pregnenolone synthesis which were seen in different mitochondrial preparations. Cholesterol sulfate was metabolized to pregnenolone sulfate by a mitochondrial side-chain cleavage system, but proved to be a relatively poor substrate for an extramitochondrial steroid sulfatase activity present in adrenal cortex. Confirming a role as a naturally occurring inhibitor, removal of endogenous mitochondrial cholesterol sulfate by metabolism to pregnenolone sulfate correlated with a 3-fold activation of cholesterol side-chain cleavage. We suggest that cholesterol sulfate functions in steroidogenic tissues to regulate the magnitude of the steroidogenic response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7222-7227
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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