How similar are P450s and what can their differences teach us?

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1999 Sep 1;369(1):24-9. doi: 10.1006/abbi.1999.1350.


Cytochromes P450 form a very large superfamily of proteins which metabolize substrates from steroids to fatty acids to drugs and are found in organisms from protists to mammals. P450s all appear to take on a similar structural fold, yet frequently having less than 20% sequence identity and having vastly different substrates. Within the structural fold there appears to be a highly conserved core, as determined from the comparison of the structures of the six crystallized, soluble P450s. There are also variable regions which by and large appear to be associated with substrate recognition, substrate binding, and redox partner binding. Molecular dynamics simulations of motion in P450cam and P450BM-3 indicate that substrate binding and product release require substantial motion around the "substrate access channel." Additionally, at the 11th International Conference on Cytochrome P450 Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology and briefly here, the first structure of a microsomal eukaryotic P450 will be presented and compared to the already determined structures by Drs. Johnson and McRee. Finally, with a better understanding of the structure/function relationship of P450s, one will be better able to modify P450s to metabolize the substrates of choice or produce needed valuable chemicals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / chemistry*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary*


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System