Characterizing the membrane-bound state of cytochrome P450 3A4: Structure, depth of insertion, and orientation

Javier L. Baylon, Ivan L. Lenov, Stephen G. Sligar, Emad Tajkhorshid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) is the most abundant membrane-associated isoform of the P450 family in humans and is responsible for biotransformation of more than 50% of drugs metabolized in the body. Despite the large number of crystallographic structures available for CYP3A4, no structural information for its membrane-bound state at an atomic level is available. In order to characterize binding, depth of insertion, membrane orientation, and lipid interactions of CYP3A4, we have employed a combined experimental and simulation approach in this study. Taking advantage of a novel membrane representation, highly mobile membrane mimetic (HMMM), with enhanced lipid mobility and dynamics, we have been able to capture spontaneous binding and insertion of the globular domain of the enzyme into the membrane in multiple independent, unbiased simulations. Despite different initial orientations and positions of the protein in solution, all the simulations converged into the same membrane-bound configuration with regard to both the depth of membrane insertion and the orientation of the enzyme on the surface of the membrane. In tandem, linear dichroism measurements performed on CYP3A4 bound to Nanodisc membranes were used to characterize the orientation of the enzyme in its membrane-bound form experimentally. The heme tilt angles measured experimentally are in close agreement with those calculated for the membrane-bound structures resulted from the simulations, thereby verifying the validity of the developed model. Membrane binding of the globular domain in CYP3A4, which appears to be independent of the presence of the transmembrane helix of the full-length enzyme, significantly reshapes the protein at the membrane interface, causing conformational changes relevant to access tunnels leading to the active site of the enzyme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8542-8551
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 12 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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