Human Brain Phenol Sulfotransferase: Biochemical Properties and Regional Localization

William F. Young, Haruo Okazaki, Edward R. Laws, Richard M. Weinshilboum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Abstract: Phenol sulfotransferase (PST) catalyzes the sulfate conjugation of catecholamines and phenol and catechol drugs. The human blood platelet contains a thermolabile (TL) form of PST that catalyzes the sulfate conjugation of dopamine and other monoamines and a thermostable (TS) form that catalyzes the sulfate conjugation of micromolar concentrations of phenol and p‐nitrophenol. Experiments were performed to determine whether the brain contains forms of PST analogous to the TL and TS forms found in the human platelet, and to determine whether there are regional variations in human brain PST activity. We found that the human brain contains at least two forms of PST, forms that are similar to the platelet TS and TL forms of the enzyme with respect to substrate specificity, apparent Km constants, thermal stability, and sensitivity to inhibitors. Optimal conditions were determined for the measurement of these two activities in brain homogenates. The stability of PST activities in the human brain after death was determined in five samples of cerebral cortex that were obtained during clinically indicated neurosurgical procedures. An average of 76 ± 8% and 80 ± 9% (mean ± SEM) of the basal TL and TS PST activities, respectively, remained in these five samples of cerebral cortex after 8 h of storage under simulated post‐mortem conditions. Six human brains were then obtained less that 8 h after death from patients who had no neurological disease prior to death. The mean activities of the TL and TS forms of PST were measured in 17 different regions of the six brains. If the pituitary was excluded from consideration, TL and TS PST activities both varied approximately fivefold among these regions, and both activities were highest in cerebral cortex. However, the average TS activity in the anterior pituitary, a tissue of non‐neural origin embryologically, was 6.5‐fold greater than the highest average TS PST activity found in cerebral cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-715
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1984


  • Brain regional localization
  • Human brain enzymes
  • Phenol sulfotransferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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