Spectral analyses of cytochromes P450

Methods Mol Biol. 2006;320:11-8. doi: 10.1385/1-59259-998-2:11.


UV/Vis spectroscopy is the major means of identifying intact holocytochrome P450. The carbon monoxide complex of the intact ferrous hemoprotein exhibits a characteristic spectrum between 448 and 452 nm, considerably distinct from the usual Soret absorption peaks of hemoproteins. Methods are described for identification and quantitation of cytochrome P450 (CYP) in membranes, in tissue homogenates, and in purified form, using difference spectroscopy and absolute spectroscopy. CYP are b-type cytochromes, containing protoporphyrin IX as the prosthetic group. Methods are also provided, using alkali and pyridine, for quantitation of the hemoprotein by this prosthetic group. In its oxidized, or ferric state, CYP exists as an equilibrium mixture of high- and low-spin configurations, each with distinctive UV/Vis absorption peaks. Substrate binding causes shifts in the spin equilibrium, and methods are shown for using these shifts for quantitation of substrate binding to CYP.

MeSH terms

  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / chemistry*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System