The cytochrome P450 enzymes (P450s or CYPs) are a superfamily of hemeproteins that catalyze the monooxygenation of a wide range of endobiotic and xenobiotic substrates. A typical strategy in toxicological research and testing involves applying a toxicant at high doses for a short period to homogeneous animals under controlled conditions. However, the conditions of this approach have very little in common with actual human exposure. Transgenic (Tg) mice carrying human genes encoding a drug-metabolizing enzyme (CYP) offer a solution to many of the difficulties in the evaluation of chemical toxicity. It has been demonstrated that the expression of human CYP transgenes under the control of mammalian-inducible promoters exhibits relatively poor fold increases after induction. In this study, we used the tetracycline-regulated (tet) promoter system to increase the expression of the human CYP1B1 (hCYP1B1) gene in the tissues of transgenic mice. By mating two lineages of transgenic mice, double transgenic (dTg) mice expressing both tTA and hCYP1B1 genes under the control of the tet promoter were successfully produced, into which the two transgenes were introduced in an embryo. The expression pattern of tTA-driven hCYP1B1 transgene featured a fold induction of more than 3 to 12 in the brain, heart, and lung and 2- to 4-fold induction in the liver, kidney, and intestine upon doxycycline removal. Immunohistochemical staining with hCYP1B1 antibody was also increased by the removal of doxycycline. In addition, the activities of CYP liver microsomes in the dTg mice without doxycycline showed an increase compared to that in the dTg mice treated with doxycycline. The level of activities correspond to the levels of human CYP1B1 protein expression in the Tg mice (-dox) that was increased by 2-fold induction as compared to that of the dTg mice with doxycycline. Thus, overproduction in Tg can be purified and the activity of purified human CYP1B1 can be characterized by alterations to the coding sequence in order to solve the physiological function of this enzyme in a humanized in vivo system. It is also possible to examine the activity of purified human CYP1B1 using several environmental toxicants such as procarcinogens.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.