OBJECTIVES: Cytochromes P450 (CYPs) are heme enzymes oxygenating a broad range of substrates. Their activity is dependent on the presence of a suitable electron donor (eukaryotic NADPH:CYP oxidoreductase or cytochrome b5). The Escherichia naturally contain no CYPs and no NADPH:CYP oxidoreductase, however it was reported that some CYPs heterologously expressed in E. coli may exist in the ferrous form. A small bacterial flavoprotein, flavodoxin is considered to be responsible for reduction some of these CYPs.
METHODS: The reduction state of several human CYPs expressed in the intact living E. coli cells was examined. In addition, molecular dynamics and steered molecular dynamics simulations were performed to predict and compare affinity of flavodoxin toward selected CYPs.
RESULTS: We determined the reduction state of five human CYPs heterologously expressed in E. coli. The computationally predicted stabilities of CYP-flavodoxin complexes correlate with the percentage of reduced CYPs in bacterial cells. The mean electron transfer distance within optimized complexes was also related to the percentage of reduced CYPs.
CONCLUSION: Depending on the resting state, the CYPs heterologously expressed in E. coli could be divided into two groups; CYP2C8, 2C9, 3A4 are in E. coli present mainly in the oxidized form; while CYP1A1, 1A2, 2A6, 2A13, 2B6, 2D6 are found predominantly in the reduced form. We found a significant correlation between the stability of CYP-flavodoxin complexes and the percentage of reduced CYPs in bacteria. Hence, the naturally expressed flavodoxin is probably responsible for reduction of a larger group of human CYPs in bacterial cells.