Discovery and characterization of a cytochrome b5 variant in humans with impaired hydroxylamine reduction capacity

Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2007 Aug;17(8):597-603. doi: 10.1097/FPC.0b013e328011aaff.


Objectives: We have shown that cytochrome b5 (cyt b5), along with its reductase, NADH cytochrome b5 reductase (b5R), is capable of direct xenobiotic biotransformation. We hypothesized that functionally significant genetic variability in cyt b5 could be found in healthy individuals.

Basic methods: Cyt b5 cDNAs were prepared from peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 63 individuals.

Main results: One individual was heterozygous for a sequence variant in cyt b5 (A178G), with a predicted amino acid substitution of T60A. This variant, when expressed in Escherichia. coli, maintained a similar Vmax for the hydroxylamines of sulfamethoxazole, 4-aminobiphenyl, and 2-amino-l-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b] pyridine (PhIP), compared with wild type cyt b5, with a modestly increased Km (2 to 3.5-fold) for each substrate. When expressed in a mammalian system (HeLa cells), however, T60A was associated with a 70% reduction in cyt b5 protein expression compared with wild type. mRNA expression for both isoforms were comparable in HeLa cells, and translation of these mRNAs in a rabbit reticulocyte lysate system with inhibited proteasomal machinery were also similar. Incubation of these translated enzymes with uninhibited rabbit reticulocyte lysate, however, indicated greater susceptibility of T60A to proteasomal degradation.

Conclusions: These data indicate that a naturally occurring variant in cyt b5, T60A, leads to modestly altered affinity for hydroxylamine substrates and dramatically reduced cyt b5 expression. Work is underway to determine the prevalence of this and other variants in cyt b5 or b5R in a larger population, and to determine the association of such variants with differences in hydroxylamine reduction in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Cytochromes b5 / biosynthesis
  • Cytochromes b5 / genetics*
  • Cytochromes b5 / metabolism*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Escherichia coli
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylamine / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Mutant Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Mutant Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Hydroxylamine
  • Cytochromes b5