The strictly anaerobic intestinal Peptococcus niger H4 synthesizes three different steroidsulfatase enzymes: a constitutive arylsulfatase and two inducible alkylsteroidsulfatases. The arylsulfatase desulfates estrogen-3-sulfates and phenylsulfates. The two alkylsteroidsulfatases desulfate, respectively, 3 alpha-sulfates and 3 beta-sulfates of delta 5, 5 alpha, and 5 beta androstanes, pregnanes, and bile acids. Cholesterol-3 beta-sulfate was not desulfated by the alkylsteroidsulfatases nor were steroids or bile acids that were sulfated in positions other than the 3 position. The alkylsteroidsulfatases were induced by their substrates; bile acid sulfates, however, were poor inducers of the 3 beta-sulfatase and did not induce the 3 alpha-sulfatase activity. In intact bacterial cells, taurine and sulfite suppressed the induction of the alkylsteroidsulfatases and inhibited the activity of the arylsulfatase and alkylsteroidsulfatases. In cell homogenates, the arylsulfatase and alkylsteroidsulfatases activities were inhibited by sulfite and sulfate but not by taurine. Our results support the hypothesis that the main function of the steroidsulfatases in P. niger H4 is to provide the bacteria with sulfur for dissimilatory purposes
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