Biochemistry
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Steroids

​​​​​Cytochrome P450

​ ​​AC S​wart group

​ P Swart group

​ ​Storbec​k group​​

Steroid hormones play an essential role in the regulation of normal mammalian physiology, regulating processes such as metabolism, inflammation, immune function, salt and water balance, stress management and reproduction. Steroid hormones are produced by the ​​​​​process of steroidogenesis which involves a number of specific cytochrome P450 (CYP) and hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD) enzymes. Our group focusses on the study of mammalian steroidogenesis, with particular interests in the effect of natural plant products on CYP and HSD enzymes; the regulation of steroidogenesis by accessory proteins such as cytochrome b5; the effect of mutations on steroid production; and the role of adrenal steroid hormones in the development and progression of prostate cancer. ​



Steroid receptors and gene expression

Africande​r grou​p   ​​

The research in our laboratory is focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of those steroid receptors that contribute to the development and progression of inflammation and breast cancer. Considering that different steroid receptors can be expressed in breast cancer tumours, and that emerging evidence shows a clinically relevant interplay between some receptors, we are investigating the consequences of having different levels and combinations of steroid receptors present. Moreover, we have a specific interest in how compounds such as progestins used in contraception and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may influence these mechanisms. We explore these using molecular approaches, with the aim of aiding in the development of new therapeutic strategies to effectively prevent or treat breast cancer.

Louw gro​up​​​​

Our research focus is on steroid hormone binding proteins, specifically the steroid hormone transport proteins in serum and intracellular steroid hormone receptors. The interplay between these two categories of steroid hormone binding proteins, whether elicited by drugs or physiological conditions, has been neglected in an era of specialization despite the obvious physiological relevance.​​


Verhoog group

Our main research focus is on the role glucocorticoids via the glucocorticoid receptor and inflammation have on insulin signalling.


​​Natural p​roducts

Louw gro​​up

Our research focus is on steroid hormone binding proteins, specifically the steroid hormone transport proteins in serum and intracellular steroid hormone receptors. The interplay between these two categories of steroid hormone binding proteins, whether elicited by drugs or physiological conditions, has been neglected in an era of specialization despite the obvious physiological relevance.


AC S​w​art group​​

Our primary focus is on adrenal steroidogenesis – on the hormones produced by the adrenal gland as well as on the steroidogenic enzymes which catalyse their biosynthesis. Stemming from this interest are our investigations into (i) the downstream metabolism of adrenal C19 steroids in prostate cancer and (ii) the biosynthesis and downstream metabolism of adrenal steroids implicated in endocrine disorders. Adrenal steroidogenic pathways are studied by the heterologous expression of enzymes, together with investigations into the metabolism of steroids in adrenal and prostate cell models. These metabolic pathways also form the basis of our ongoing studies into the biological activities of natural plant products and their influence on the human endocrine system.​