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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1989 Nov 1;274(2):481-90.

Novel exogenous heme-dependent expression of mammalian cytochrome P450 using baculovirus.

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Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Rat P450 IIA1 is a membrane-bound hemoprotein that catalyzes the 7 alpha- and 6 alpha-hydroxylation of testosterone. A recombinant baculovirus, containing the cDNA encoding IIA1, was constructed and used to infect Spodoptera frugiperda cells. Infected cells contained up to 10% IIA1 protein as quantified by Western blot analysis; however, only a small percentage of this protein contained heme and was catalytically active. Addition of hemin to the culture medium during the course of viral infection resulted in a marked sixfold increase in both testosterone hydroxylase activity and heme-containing IIA1 protein. When the exogenously added protoheme was substituted with modified heme molecules containing hydrogen or ethyl groups at the 2 and 4 positions of the protoporphyrin IX, enzymes with only marginal changes in catalytic properties were produced. These data indicate that baculovirus can be used as a system to produce high levels of mammalian cytochrome P450s containing custom modified heme moieties.

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