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Eur J Biochem. 1984 May 2;140(3):583-91.

The catalytic cycle of cytochrome P-450scc and intermediates in the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone.


Cytochrome P-450scc as isolated is a cholesterol-depleted low-spin haemoprotein; addition of cholesterol results in formation of a high-spin complex. Cytochrome P-450scc--cholesterol is a one-electron acceptor on titration with NADPH. Cytochrome P-450scc--cholesterol can be anaerobically reduced to the ferrous state which, on oxygenation, forms an oxygenated cytochrome P-450scc--cholesterol complex. This oxygenated complex in the absence of adrenodoxin autoxidises to ferric cytochrome P-450scc--cholesterol without oxidation of cholesterol. The decay of the oxygenated complex is first-order, k = 9.3 X 10(-3) S-1 at 4 degrees C. The rate of autoxidation is influenced by pH, ionic strength and the chemical nature of bound sterol. The activation energy of autoxidation is 75 kJ mol-1. Addition of equimolar amounts of adrenodoxin to cytochrome P-450scc--cholesterol followed by stoichiometric reduction under anaerobic conditions and subsequent oxygenation, allows single catalytic turnover cycles of cytochrome P-450scc to be observed. This has led to detection of intermediates in the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone and a precursor/product sequence of cholesterol----22-hydroxycholesterol----20,22-dihydroxy-cholesterol ----pregnenolone has been established. Addition of oxidised adrenodoxin to oxygenated cytochrome P-450scc--cholesterol results in formation of 22-hydroxycholesterol.

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