Looking across the tree of life, it is amazing that one finds cytochrome P450s represented in all life forms. Interestingly, common to these various life forms is a bipartite functionality. One major function of these monooxygenases is in xenobiotic metabolism and detoxification. Here, one finds the use of these monooxygenases in reactions ranging from the metabolism of pharmaceuticals in humans [33,179] to the removal of toxic substrances in insects and plants. A second major role in all life forms finds the P450s functioning in the biosynthesis of hormones and signaling molecules, again providing critical functions in mammals, insects and plants. It is clear that, despite their many differences, their similarities and existing technologies available for transferring genes from organism to the next are now allowing researchers with clear insight into the machinations of these enzymes to engineer P450s for many biotechnological applications. As summarized by Bernhardt , recombinant P450s have already been used for improving production of pharmaceuticals in bacterial systems and enhancing synthetic processes in plants with many remaining to be tested. Looking ahead in this ever-expanding field of research is exciting with work on P450 diversity providing the tools for many future biotechnological applications.
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