Biochemical pharmacology

Expression and functional activities of selected sulfotransferase isoforms in BeWo cells and primary cytotrophoblast cells.

PMID 19646966


Several cytosolic sulfotransferase enzyme isoforms are functional in placenta but there is limited information available on the utility of cultured trophoblast cells for studying sulfation. The trophoblast cell layer constitutes the rate-determining barrier for trans-placental transfer. The objective of this work was to examine the mRNA expression and enzyme activities of four sulfotransferase isoforms reported to be functional in human placenta (SULT1A1, SULT1A3, SULT1E1, and SULT2A1) in primary cytotrophoblast cells and the trophoblast-like BeWo cell line. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed to determine mRNA expression. Enzyme activities were assessed using the following substrates: 4-nitrophenol for SULT1A1, dopamine for SULT1A3, 17beta-estradiol for SULT1E1, and dehydroepiandrosterone for SULT2A1. For 4-nitrophenol and dopamine sulfation, apparent K(m) values, response to inhibitors (2,6-dichloro-4-nitrophenol and sodium chloride), and thermal stability profiles indicated that 4-nitrophenol and dopamine sulfation in BeWo cells were being mediated by SULT1A1 and SULT1A3, respectively. SULT1A1 and SULT1A3 were also functional in the cytotrophoblast cells. Both at the protein and at the mRNA levels, SULT1A1 was more abundant in BeWo cells in comparison to the primary cytotrophoblast cells. SULT1E1 and SULT2A1 mRNA were not detected in the cytotrophoblasts. SULT1E1 mRNA was weakly expressed in BeWo but there was negligible functional activity. Although SULT2A1 mRNA was abundantly expressed in BeWo, Western blot and enzyme activities revealed that the protein is not expressed in BeWo cells. The results suggest that the BeWo cells and the cytotrophoblast cells can be used to examine the roles of SULT1A1 and SULT1A3 in placental metabolism.