Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Steroids. 1997 Jan;62(1):117-23.

P450BM-3; a tale of two domains--or is it three?

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235-9038, USA.


Over 400 P450s have been identified to date in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, plants and animals, mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum. These enzymes function in areas such as metabolism and steroidogenesis. The eukaryotic members of this gene superfamily of proteins have proved difficult to study because of the hydrophobic nature of their substrates, their various redox partners, and membrane association. To better understand the structure/function relationship of P450s-what determines substrate specificity and selectivity, what determines redox-partner binding, and which regions are involved in membrane binding-we have compared the three crystallized, soluble bacterial P450s (two class I and one class II) and a model of a steroidogenic, eukaryotic P450 (P450arom), to define which structural elements form a conserved structural fold for P450s, what determines specificity of substrate binding and redox-partner binding, and which regions are potentially involved in membrane association. We believe that there is a conserved structural fold for all P450s that can be used to model those P450s that prove intransigent to structural determination. However, although there appears to be a conserved structural core among P450s, there is sufficient sequence variability that no two P450s are structurally identical. NADPH-P450 reductase transfers electrons from NADPH to P450 during the P450 catalytic cycle. This enzyme has usually been thought of as a simple globular protein; however, sequence analysis has shown that NADPH-P450 reductase is related to two separate flavoprotein families, ferredoxin nucleotide reductase (FNR) and flavodoxin. Recent studies by Wolff and his colleagues have shown that the FAD-binding FNR domain and FMN-binding flavodoxin domain of human NADPH-P450 reductase can be independently expressed in Escherichia coli. The subdomains can be used to reconstitute, however poorly, the monooxygenase activity of the P450 system. We have been utilizing the reductase domain of P450BM-3 to study the mechanism of electron transfer from NADPH to P450 in this complex multidomain protein. We have overexpressed both the FNR subdomain and the flavodoxin subdomain in E. coli and fully reconstituted the cytochrome c reductase activity of this enzyme. Our studies have shown that electron transfer from NADPH through the reductase domain to the P450 requires shuttling of the FMN subdomain between the reductase subdomain and the P450. Studies of the factors that control the molecular recognition and interaction among these three proteins are complicated by the weakness of the association and changes in the strength of the interaction depending on the redox state of each of the components. How these structural and mechanistic studies of a soluble bacterial P450 can be extended to gain a better understanding of the control of membrane-bound eukaryotic P450-dependent redox systems is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center