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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Mar;1770(3):458-66. Epub 2006 Oct 3.

Mammalian cytochromes P450--importance of tissue specificity.

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  • 1Center for Functional Genomics and Bio-Chips, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Zaloska 4, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Mammals express multiple cytochromes P450 simultaneously in a variety of tissues, including the liver, kidney, lung, adrenal, gonads, brain, and most others. For cytochromes P450 that are expressed in many tissues or cell types, the tissue/cell type-specific expression might be associated with their special physiological roles. Several cytochrome P450 enzymes are found not only in different cell types and tissues, but also in different subcellular compartments. Generally, all mammalian cytochrome P450 enzymes are membrane bound. The two major groups are represented by microsomal cytochromes P450 that reside in the endoplasmic reticulum, and mitochondrial cytochromes P450, that reside in the inner mitochondrial membrane. However, the outer nuclear membrane, different Golgi compartments, peroxisomes and the plasma membrane are also sites where cytochromes P450 were observed. For example, CYP51 is an ER enzyme in majority of tissues but in male germ cells it trafficks through the Golgi to acrosome, where it is stabilized for several weeks. Surprisingly, in brains of heme synthesis deficient mice, a soluble form of CYP1A1 was detected whose activity has been restored by the addition of heme. In the majority of cases each cytochrome P450 enzyme resides in a single subcellular compartment in a certain cell, however, examples of simultaneous localization in different subcellular compartments have also been described, such as endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi and plasma membrane for CYP2E1. This review will focus on the physiological importance of mammalian cytochrome P450 expression and localization in different tissues or cell types and subcellular compartments.

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