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J Biol Chem. 2005 May 20;280(20):19569-75. Epub 2005 Mar 17.

Directed evolution of mammalian cytochrome P450 2B1: mutations outside of the active site enhance the metabolism of several substrates, including the anticancer prodrugs cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, 77555, USA.


Cytochrome P450 2B1 has been subjected to directed evolution to investigate the role of amino acid residues outside of the active site and to engineer novel, more active P450 catalysts. A high throughput screening system was developed to measure H(2)O(2)-supported oxidation of the marker fluorogenic substrate 7-ethoxy-4-trifluoromethylcoumarin (7-EFC). Random mutagenesis by error-prone polymerase chain reaction and activity screening were optimized using the L209A mutant of P450 2B1 in an N-terminally modified construct with a C-terminal His tag (P450 2B1dH). Two rounds of mutagenesis and screening and one subcloning step yielded the P450 2B1 quadruple mutant V183L/F202L/L209A/S334P, which demonstrated a 6-fold higher k(cat) than L209A. Further random or site-directed mutagenesis did not improve the activity. When assayed in an NADPH-supported reconstituted system, V183L/L209A demonstrated lower 7-EFC oxidation than L209A. Therefore, F202L/L209A/S334P was generated, which showed a 2.5-fold higher k(cat)/K(m) for NADPH-dependent 7-EFC oxidation than L209A. F202L/L209A/S334P also showed enhanced catalytic efficiency with 7-benzyloxyresorufin, benzphetamine, and testosterone, and a 10-fold increase in stereoselectivity for testosterone 16alpha-versus 16beta-hydroxylation compared with 2B1dH. Enhanced catalytic efficiency of F202L/L209A/S334P was also retained in the full-length P450 2B1 background with 7-EFC and testosterone as substrates. Finally, the individual mutants were tested for metabolism of the anti-cancer prodrugs cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide. Several of the mutants showed increased metabolism via the therapeutically beneficial 4-hydroxylation pathway, with L209A/S334P showing 2.8-fold enhancement of k(cat)/K(m) with cyclophosphamide and V183L/L209A showing 3.5-fold enhancement with ifosfamide. Directed evolution can thus be used to enhance P450 2B1 catalytic efficiency across a panel of substrates and to identify functionally important residues distant from the active site.

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