Biosynthesis and Industrial Production of Androsteroids

Rituraj Batth*, Clément Nicolle, Ilenuta Simina Cuciurean, Henrik Toft Simonsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Steroids are a group of organic compounds that include sex hormones, adrenal cortical hormones, sterols, and phytosterols. In mammals, steroid biosynthesis starts from cholesterol via multiple steps to the final steroid and occurs in the gonads, adrenal glands, and placenta. This highly regulated pathway involves several cytochrome P450, as well as different dehydrogenases and reductases. Steroids in mammals have also been associated with drug production. Steroid pharmaceuticals such as testosterone and progesterone represent the second largest category of marketed medical products. There heterologous production through microbial transformation of phytosterols has gained interest in the last couple of decades. Phytosterols being the plants sterols serve as inexpensive substrates for the production of steroid derivatives. Various genes and biochemical pathways involved in phytosterol degradation have been identified in many Rhodococcus and Mycobacterium species. Apart from an early investigation in mammals, presence of steroids such as androsteroids and progesterone has also been demonstrated in plants. Their main role is linked with growth, development, and reproduction. Even though plants share some chemical features with mammals, the biosynthesis is different, with the first C22 hydroxylation as an example. This is performed by CYP11A1 in mammals and CYP90B1 in plants. Moreover, the entire plant steroid biosynthesis is not fully elucidated. Knowing this pathway could provide new processes for the industrial biotechnological production of steroid hormones in plants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1144
Issue number9
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Steroid hormones
  • Androsteroids
  • Testosterone
  • Pregnenolone
  • Progesterone
  • Cholesterol biosynthesis
  • Phytosterols


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