Alternative splicing determines the function of CYP4F3 by switching substrate specificity

J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 12;276(41):38166-72. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M104818200. Epub 2001 Jul 18.


Diversity of cytochrome P450 function is determined by the expression of multiple genes, many of which have a high degree of identity. We report that the use of alternate exons, each coding for 48 amino acids, generates isoforms of human CYP4F3 that differ in substrate specificity, tissue distribution, and biological function. Both isoforms contain a total of 520 amino acids. CYP4F3A, which incorporates exon 4, inactivates LTB4 by omega-hydroxylation (Km = 0.68 microm) but has low activity for arachidonic acid (Km = 185 microm); it is the only CYP4F isoform expressed in myeloid cells in peripheral blood and bone marrow. CYP4F3B incorporates exon 3 and is selectively expressed in liver and kidney; it is also the predominant CYP4F isoform in trachea and tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. CYP4F3B has a 30-fold higher Km for LTB4 compared with CYP4F3A, but it utilizes arachidonic acid as a substrate for omega-hydroxylation (Km = 22 microm) and generates 20-HETE, an activator of protein kinase C and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II. Homology modeling demonstrates that the alternative exon has a position in the molecule which could enable it to contribute to substrate interactions. The results establish that tissue-specific alternative splicing of pre-mRNA can be used as a mechanism for changing substrate specificity and increasing the functional diversity of cytochrome P450 genes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / chemistry
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P450 Family 4
  • DNA Primers
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / chemistry
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / chemistry
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Substrate Specificity


  • DNA Primers
  • Isoenzymes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Cytochrome P450 Family 4
  • leukotriene B4 20-hydroxylase