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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1989 Feb 1;268(2):605-16.

Redox cycling of resorufin catalyzed by rat liver microsomal NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutics, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, 66103.


The O-dealkylation of 7-alkoxyresorufins to the highly fluorescent compound, resorufin (7-hydroxyphenoxazone), provides a rapid, sensitive, and convenient assay of certain forms of liver microsomal cytochrome P450. The results of this study indicate that NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase catalyzes the reduction of resorufin (and the 7-alkoxyresorufins) to a colorless, nonfluorescent compound(s). The reduction of resorufin by NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase was supported by NADPH but not NADH, and was not inhibited by dicumarol, which established that the reaction was not catalyzed by contaminating DT-diaphorase (NAD[P]H-quinone oxidoreductase). In addition to the rate of reduction, the extent of reduction of resorufin was dependent on the concentration of NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase. The maintenance of steady-state levels of reduced resorufin required the continuous oxidation of NADPH, during which molecular O2 was consumed. When NADPH was completely consumed, the spectroscopic and fluorescent properties of resorufin were fully restored. These results indicate that the reduction of resorufin by NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase initiates a redox cycling reaction. Stoichiometric measurements revealed of 1:1:1 relationship between the amount of NADPH and O2 consumed and the amount of H2O2 formed (measured fluorometrically). The amount of O2 consumed during the redox cycling of resorufin decreased approximately 50% in the presence of catalase, whereas the rate of O2 consumption decreased in the presence of superoxide dismutase. These results suggest that, during the reoxidation of reduced resorufin, O2 is converted to H2O2 via superoxide anion. Experiments with acetylated cytochrome c further implicated superoxide anion as an intermediate in the reduction of O2 to H2O2. However, the ability of reduced resorufin to reduce acetylated cytochrome c directly (i.e., without first reducing O2 to superoxide anion) precluded quantitative measurements of superoxide anion formation. Superoxide dismutase, but not catalase, increased the steady-state level of reduced resorufin and considerably delayed its reoxidation. This indicates that superoxide anion is not only capable of reoxidizing reduced resorufin, but is considerably more effective than molecular O2 in this regard. Overall, these results suggest that NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase catalyzes the one-electron reduction of resorufin (probably to the corresponding semiquinoneimine radical) which can either undergo a second, one-electron reduction (presumably to the corresponding dihydroquinoneimine) or a one-electron oxidation by reducing molecular O2 to superoxide anion.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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