New cytochromes P450: Tale of two variants

Cheri Marie Turman, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Cytochrome P450s, a superfamily of heme enzymes found in most living organisms. They are responsible for metabolism of many therapeutic drugs, industrial pollutants, carcinogens, and additives to foodstuffs, as well as some endogenous compounds including fatty acids and steroids. First pass drug metabolism studies represent mainly liver and small intestine elimination, and are viewed as the standard to predict therapeutic outcome. However, drug plasma levels determined after administration do not always correlate with therapeutic efficacy of the drug. Therefore, a possible explanation may come by understanding drug metabolism in extrahepatic tissues and/or at the site of drug action. Identification and characterization of novel tissue specific isoforms of P450 generated by alternative splicing of known P450 genes or as yet unidentified genes is essential to predict pharmacological outcome of drugs or the fate of a carcinogen that act at sites remote from liver. Using RT-PCR, brain-specific cytochrome P450s were detected in samples of human autopsy brain. So far, we have identified two human brain variants including P450 2D7 and P450 1A1. We have shown the presence of the P450 1A1 brain specific splice variant in African Americans, Caucasians and Indians albeit different patterns of liver to brain variant ratio were seen distributed throughout each population. Interestingly, the splice variant was detected only in the brain but not in any other tissues from the same individual. Homology modeling was used to compare the variant 3D structure to the liver form structure and differences in the substrate access channels and substrate binding sites were noticed. Automated computational docking was used to predict the metabolic fate of the potent carcinogenic substrate, benzo[a]pyrene. P450 1A1 brain variant showed no binding orientations that could produce the active metabolite, whereas P450 1A1 liver form did reveal orientations capable of generating active carcinogenic product. In vitro P32 labeling studies verified the docking predictions. Therefore, the data support the hypothesis that P450 brain splice variants mediate the metabolism of xenobiotics by mechanisms distinct from the well-studied liver counterparts.

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Recommended Citation

Turman, Cheri Marie, "New cytochromes P450: Tale of two variants" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3209536.