Evidence that cytochrome b5 acts as a redox donor in CYP17A1 mediated androgen synthesis

Ruchia Duggal, Yilin Liu, Michael C. Gregory, Ilia G. Denisov, James R. Kincaid, Stephen G. Sligar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cytochrome P450 17A1 (CYP17A1) is an important drug target for castration resistant prostate cancer. It is a bi-functional enzyme, catalyzing production of glucocorticoid precursors by hydroxylation of pregnene-nucleus, and androgen biosynthesis by a second [Formula presented] lyase step, at the expense of glucocorticoid production. Cytochrome b5 (cyt b5) is known to be a key regulator of the androgen synthesis reaction in vivo, by a mechanism that is not well understood. Two hypotheses have been proposed for the mechanism by which cyt b5 increases androgen biosynthesis. Cyt b5 could act as an allosteric effector, binding to CYP17A1 and either changing its selective substrate affinity or altering the conformation of the P450 to increase the catalytic rate or decrease unproductive uncoupling channels. Alternatively, cyt b5 could act as a redox donor for supply of the second electron in the P450 cycle, reducing the oxyferrous complex to form the reactive peroxo-intermediate. To understand the mechanism of lyase enhancement by cyt b5, we generated a redox-inactive form of cyt b5, in which the heme is replaced with a Manganese-protoporphyrin IX (Mn-b5), and investigated enhancement of androgen producing lyase reaction by CYP17A1. Given the critical significance of a stable membrane anchor for all of the proteins involved and the need for controlled stoichiometric ratios, we employed the Nanodisc system for this study. The redox inactive form was observed to have no effect on the lyase reaction, while reactions with the normal heme-iron containing cyt b5 were enhanced ∼5 fold as compared to reactions in the absence of cyt b5. We also performed resonance Raman measurements on ferric CYP17A1 bound to Mn-b5. Upon addition of Mn-b5 to Nanodisc reconstituted CYP17A1, we observed clear evidence for the formation of a b5-CYP17A1 complex, as noted by changes in the porphyrin modes and alteration in the proximal [Formula presented] vibrational frequency. Thus, although Mn-b5 binds to CYP17A1, it is unable to enhance the lyase reaction, strongly suggesting that cyt b5 has a redox effector role in enhancement of the CYP17A1 mediated lyase reaction necessary for androgen synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-208
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 19 2016


  • Androgen synthesis
  • CYP17A1
  • Cytochrome b
  • Nanodiscs
  • Redox donor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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