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Carcinogenesis. 1998 Oct;19(10):1847-53.

Metabolism of benzo[a]pyrene and benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-diol by human cytochrome P450 1B1.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.

Erratum in

  • Carcinogenesis 1999 Mar;20(3):515.


Benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), a ubiquitous environmental, tobacco and dietary carcinogen, has been implicated in human cancer etiology. The role of human cytochrome P450 1B1 in the metabolism of B[a]P is poorly understood. Using microsomal preparations of human P450 1A1, 1A2 and 1B1 expressed in baculovirus-infected insect cells, as well as human and rat P450 1B1 expressed in yeast, we have determined the metabolism of B[a]P, with and without the addition of exogenous epoxide hydrolase, and B[a]P-7,8-dihydrodiol (7,8-diol), each substrate at a concentration of 10 microM. HPLC analysis detected eight major metabolites of B[a]P and four metabolites of the 7,8-diol. The results of these studies indicate that cytochrome P450 1B1 carries out metabolism of B[a]P along the pathway to the postulated ultimate carcinogen, the diol epoxide 2, at rates much higher than P450 1A2 but less than P450 1A1. The rates of formation of the 7,8-diol metabolite in incubations with epoxide hydrolase are 0.17 and 0.38 nmol/min/nmol P450 for human P450 1B1 and 1A1, respectively, and undetectable for 1A2. The rates of total tetrol metabolite formation from the 7,8-diol, which are indicative of diol epoxide formation, are 0.60, 0.43 and 2.58 nmol/min/nmol P450 for 1B1, 1A2 and 1A1 respectively. In agreement with other reports of rat P450 1B1 activity, our data show this rat enzyme to be very active for B[a]P and 7,8-diol, with rates higher than human P450 1B1. In addition to the established role of P450 1A1 in B[a]P metabolism, P450 1B1 may significantly contribute to B[a]P and 7,8-diol metabolism and carcinogenesis in rodent tumor models and in humans.

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