The present study explores the ability of intracellular bacteria within the renal-inter-renal tissue of the winter skate Leucoraja ocellata to metabolize steroids and contribute to the synthesis of the novel elasmobranch corticosteroid, 1a-hydroxycorticosterone (1a-OH-B). Despite the rarity of C1 hydroxylation noted in the original identification of 1a-OH-B, literature provides evidence for steroid C1 hydroxylation by micro-organisms. Eight ureolytic bacterial isolates were identified in the renal-inter-renal tissue of L. ocellata, the latter being the site of 1a-OH-B synthesis. From incubations of bacterial isolates with known amounts of potential 1a-OH-B precursors, one isolate UM008 of the genus Rhodococcus was seen to metabolize corticosteroids and produce novel products via HPLC analysis. Cations Zn2+and Fe3+altered metabolism of certain steroid precursors, suggesting inhibition of Rhodococcus steroid catabolism. Genome sequencing of UM008 identified strong sequence and structural homology to that of Rhodococcus erythropolis PR4. A complete enzymatic pathway for steroid-ring oxidation as documented within other Actinobacteria was identified within the UM008 genome. This study highlights the potential role of Rhodococcus bacteria in steroid metabolism and proposes a novel alternative pathway for 1a-OH-B synthesis, suggesting a unique form of mutualism between intracellular bacteria and their elasmobranch host.© 2017 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.
Journal: Journal of fish biology