Oxidase uncoupling in heme monooxygenases: Human cytochrome P450 CYP3A4 in Nanodiscs

Yelena V. Grinkova, Ilia G. Denisov, Mark A. McLean, Stephen G. Sligar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The normal reaction mechanism of cytochrome P450 operates by utilizing two reducing equivalents to reduce atmospheric dioxygen, producing one molecule of water and an oxygenated product in an overall stoichiometry of 2 electrons:1 dioxygen:1 product. However, three alternate unproductive pathways exist where the intermediate iron-oxygen states in the catalytic cycle can yield reduced oxygen products without substrate metabolism. The first involves release of superoxide from the oxygenated intermediate while the second occurs after input of the second reducing equivalent. Superoxide rapidly dismutates and hence both processes produce hydrogen peroxide that can be cytotoxic to the organism. In both cases, the formation of hydrogen peroxide involves the same overall stoichiometry as oxygenases catalysis. The key step in the catalytic cycle of cytochrome P450 involves scission of the oxygen-oxygen bond of atmospheric dioxygen to produce a higher valent iron-oxo state termed " Compound I" This intermediate initiates a radical reaction in the oxygenase pathway but also can uptake two additional reducing equivalents from reduced pyridine nucleotide (NADPH) and the flavoprotein reductase to produce a second molecule of water. This non-productive decay of Compound I thus yields an overall oxygen to NADPH ratio of 1:2 and does not produce hydrocarbon oxidation. This water uncoupling reaction provides one of a limited means to study the reactivity of the critical Compound I intermediate in P450 catalysis. We measured simultaneously the rates of NADPH and oxygen consumption as a function of substrate concentration during the steady-state hydroxylation of testosterone catalyzed by human P450 CYP3A4 reconstituted in Nanodiscs. We discovered that the " oxidase" uncoupling pathway is also operating in the substrate free form of the enzyme with rate of this pathway substantially increasing with the first substrate binding event. Surprisingly, a large fraction of the reducing equivalents used by the P450 system is wasted in this oxidase pathway. In addition, the overall coupling with testosterone and bromocryptine as substrates is significantly higher in the presence of anionic lipids, which is attributed to the changes in the redox potential of CYP3A4 and reductase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1223-1227
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 25 2013


  • CYP3A4
  • Cytochrome P450
  • Nanodiscs
  • Oxidase pathway
  • P450 mechanism
  • Uncoupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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