Biodiversity is the most characteristic feature of cytochrome P450. Finding of CYP51 distributing widely in biological kingdoms provided breakthroughs for the discussion on the evolution and diversification of P450. Molecular phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that CYP51 appeared in the prokaryotic era and distributed into most kingdoms concomitant with phylogenetic divergence. This is the first evolutionary evidence indicating the prokaryotic origin of P450. Modification of substrate specificity of eukaryotic CYP51s occurred independently to adapt to the different sterol precursors existing in each kingdom. Formation of CYP51 variants through the mutation of active site and the selection of the advantageous ones from them were demonstrated by the emergence of azole-resistant CYP51s in Candida albicans under the environments rich in azole antifungal agents. These findings illustrate the most probable core process of P450 diversification consisting of modification of active site and selection of the resulting variants through interaction with endogenous and exogenous chemicals.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.