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Aquat Toxicol. 2000 Apr 1;48(4):529-547.

Cytochrome P450 enzymes in aquatic invertebrates: recent advances and future directions.

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  • 1Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis, PO Box 247, Bodega Bay, CA, USA


A variety of enzymes and other proteins are produced by organisms in response to xenobiotic exposures. Cytochrome P450s (CYP) are one of the major phase I-type classes of detoxification enzymes found in terrestrial and aquatic organisms ranging from bacteria to vertebrates. These enzymes metabolize a wide variety of substrates including endogenous molecules (e.g. fatty acids, eicosenoids, steroids) and xenobiotics (e.g. hydrocarbons, pesticides, drugs). Aquatic invertebrates, especially those in marine habitats, occupy every aspect of the environment, from above the surface (intertidal) to below the sediments. In turn, they have extremely diverse physiologies and are exposed to a vast array of potential toxicants. Aspects of aquatic invertebrate cytochrome P450 enzymes have been studied for the last 25 years. In a few phyla, P450 activities have been measured and are responsive to xenobiotic exposures. Until the last several years, little progress had occurred in the identification of P450 gene diversity in aquatic invertebrates. Molecular biology tools have greatly aided this search, and are likely to identify as much diversity for this protein superfamily as is present in higher marine and terrestrial organisms. Recent work has expanded our knowledge of the CYP superfamily, and new developments will rapidly advance the usefulness of these genes into such fields as biomarker research. Advances of the last decade are reviewed and insights are presented from related insect studies.

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