Surface plasmon resonance analysis of antifungal azoles binding to CYP3A4 with kinetic resolution of multiple binding orientations

Biochemistry. 2006 May 23;45(20):6341-53. doi: 10.1021/bi0600042.


The heme-containing cytochrome P450s (CYPs) are a major enzymatic determinant of drug clearance and drug-drug interactions. The CYP3A4 isoform is inhibited by antifungal imidazoles or triazoles, which form low-spin heme iron complexes via formation of a nitrogen-ferric iron coordinate bond. However, CYP3A4 also slowly oxidizes the antifungal itraconazole (ITZ) at a site that is approximately 25 A from the triazole nitrogens, suggesting that large antifungal azoles can adopt multiple orientations within the CYP3A4 active site. Here, we report a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analysis with kinetic resolution of two binding modes of ITZ, and the related drug ketoconazole (KTZ). SPR reveals a very slow off-rate for one binding orientation. Multiphasic binding kinetics are observed, and one of the two binding components resolved by curve fitting exhibits "equilibrium overshoot". Preloading of CYP3A4 with the heme ligand imidazole abolishes this component of the antifungal azole binding trajectories, and it eliminates the conspicuously slow off-rate. The fractional populations of CYP3A4 complexes corresponding to different drug orientations can be manipulated by altering the duration of the pulse of drug exposure. UV-vis difference absorbance titrations yield low-spin spectra and K(D) values that are consistent with the high-affinity complex resolved by SPR. These results demonstrate that ITZ and KTZ bind in multiple orientations, including a catalytically productive mode and a slowly dissociating inhibitory mode. Most importantly, they provide the first example of a SPR-based method for the kinetic characterization of binding of a drug to any human CYP, including mechanistic insight not available from other methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry*
  • Antifungal Agents / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / chemistry*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / metabolism
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / metabolism
  • Itraconazole / chemistry*
  • Itraconazole / metabolism
  • Ketoconazole / chemistry*
  • Ketoconazole / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Light
  • Protein Conformation / drug effects
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance / methods*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Imidazoles
  • Itraconazole
  • imidazole
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Ketoconazole