An integrated molecular biology and computational approach to CYP1A1 expression in human brain

Jade Michelle Hatley, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The cytochromes P450 comprise a superfamily of heme-containing mono-oxygenases. These enzymes metabolize numerous xenobiotics, but also play a role in metabolism of endogenous compounds. The P450 1A1 enzyme generally metabolizes polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and its expression can be induced by aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) activation. CYP1A1 is an exception to the generality that the majority of CYPs demonstrate highest expression in liver; CYP1Al is present in numerous extrahepatic tissues, including brain. This P450 has been observed in two forms, wildtype (WT) and brain variant (BV), arising from alternatively spliced mRNA transcripts. The CYP1A1 BV mRNA presented an exon deletion and was detected in human brain but not liver tissue of the same individuals. Quantitative PCR analyses were performed to determine CYP1A1 WT and BV transcript expression levels in normal, bipolar disorder or schizophrenic groups. In our samples, we show that CYP1A1 BV mRNA, when present, is found alongside the full-length form. Furthermore, we demonstrate a significant decrease in expression of CYP1A1 in patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The expression level was not influenced by post-mortem interval, tissue pH, age, tobacco use, or lifetime antipsychotic medication load. There is no indication of increased brain CYP1A1 expression in normal smokers versus non-smokers in these samples. We observed slightly increased CYP1A1 expression only in bipolar and schizophrenic smokers versus non-smokers. This may be indicative of complex interactions between neuronal chemical environments and AhR-mediated CYP1A1 induction in brain. Structural homology modeling demonstrated that P450 1A1 BV has several alterations to positions/orientations of substrate recognition site residues compared to the WT isoform. Automated substrate docking was employed to investigate the potential binding of neurological signaling molecules and neurotropic drugs, as well as to differentiate specificities of the two P450 1A1 isoforms. We consistently observed that the BV isoform produced energetically favorable substrate dockings in orientations not observed for the same substrate in the WT isoform. These results demonstrated that structural differences, namely an expanded substrate access channel and active site, confer greater capacity for unique compound docking positions suggesting a metabolic profile distinct from the wildtype form for these test compounds.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Biochemistry

Recommended Citation

Hatley, Jade Michelle, "An integrated molecular biology and computational approach to CYP1A1 expression in human brain" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3322428.