More specifically, CYP17A1 acts upon pregnenolone and progesterone to add a hydroxyl (-OH) group at carbon 17 of the steroid D ring (the hydroxylase activity), or acts upon 17-hydroxyprogesterone and 17-hydroxypregnenolone to split the side-chain off the steroid nucleus (the lyase activity).
The drug abiraterone which is used to treat castration-resistant prostate cancer blocks the biosynthesis of androgens by inhibiting the CYP17A1 enzyme. Abiterone binds in the active site of the enzyme and coordinates the heme iron through its pyridine nitrogen, mimicking the subtrate.
17α-hydroxylase converts pregnenolone and progesterone to their 17-hydroxy forms, and converts 17-hydroxypregnenolone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone to DHEA and androstenedione, respectively. It corresponds to the downward arrows in this reaction scheme.
Steroidogenesis, showing, at left side, both reactions of 17-alpha hydroxylase, and both actions of 17, 20 lyase.
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