Development of a High-Throughput Cell-Based Assay for 11β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 Using BacMam Technology

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Cortisol is an important glucocorticoid in humans that regulates many physiological processes. Human 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) converts cortisone to cortisol in vivo and has emerged as an appealing therapeutic target for treating metabolic diseases. Here, we report a sensitive and robust high-throughput (HT) cell-based assay for screening 11β-HSD1 inhibitors. This assay utilizes a HEK293 cell line transduced by a BacMam virus expressing human 11β-HSD1. The enzyme activity in the cells was measured by quantifying cortisol levels released into the cell culture supernatant via a competitive homogenous time-resolved fluorescence (HTRF) method. We show that 11β-HSD1 activity in supernatant of BacMam-transduced HEK293 cells increases with 11β-HSD1 BacMam virus load in a dose-dependent manner, and is comparable to the enzyme activity detected in differentiated mouse adipocytes. In addition, we show that co-expression of hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (H6PDH) is not required for the enzyme to function effectively as an oxo-reductase. This assay has been developed in low-volume 384-well format and it is sensitive, robust, and amenable to HT screening.

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