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J Biol Chem. 2009 Dec 25;284(52):36628-37. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.054304. Epub 2009 Oct 26.

Domain motion in cytochrome P450 reductase: conformational equilibria revealed by NMR and small-angle x-ray scattering.

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Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Structural Biology, Department of Biochemistry, University of Leicester, UK.


NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (CPR), a diflavin reductase, plays a key role in the mammalian P450 mono-oxygenase system. In its crystal structure, the two flavins are close together, positioned for interflavin electron transfer but not for electron transfer to cytochrome P450. A number of lines of evidence suggest that domain motion is important in the action of the enzyme. We report NMR and small-angle x-ray scattering experiments addressing directly the question of domain organization in human CPR. Comparison of the (1)H-(15)N heteronuclear single quantum correlation spectrum of CPR with that of the isolated FMN domain permitted identification of residues in the FMN domain whose environment differs in the two situations. These include several residues that are solvent-exposed in the CPR crystal structure, indicating the existence of a second conformation in which the FMN domain is involved in a different interdomain interface. Small-angle x-ray scattering experiments showed that oxidized and NADPH-reduced CPRs have different overall shapes. The scattering curve of the reduced enzyme can be adequately explained by the crystal structure, whereas analysis of the data for the oxidized enzyme indicates that it exists as a mixture of approximately equal amounts of two conformations, one consistent with the crystal structure and one a more extended structure consistent with that inferred from the NMR data. The correlation between the effects of adenosine 2',5'-bisphosphate and NADPH on the scattering curve and their effects on the rate of interflavin electron transfer suggests that this conformational equilibrium is physiologically relevant.

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