CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 are two extrahepatic enzymes that have been implicated in carcinogenesis and cancer progression. Selective inhibition of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 by dietary constituents, notably the class of flavonoids, is a widely accepted paradigm that supports the concept of dietary chemoprevention. In parallel, recent studies have documented the ability of CYP1 enzymes to selectively metabolize dietary flavonoids to conversion products that inhibit cancer cell proliferation. In the present study we have examined the inhibition of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1-catalyzed EROD activity by 14 different flavonoids containing methoxy- and hydroxyl-group substitutions as well as the metabolism of the monomethoxylated CYP1-flavonoid inhibitor acacetin and the poly-methoxylated flavone eupatorin-5-methyl ether by recombinant CYP1A1 and CYP1B1. The most potent inhibitors of CYP1-EROD activity were the methoxylated flavones acacetin, diosmetin, eupatorin and the di-hydroxylated flavone chrysin, indicating that the 4'-OCH(3) group at the B ring and the 5,7-dihydroxy motif at the A ring play a prominent role in EROD inhibition. Potent inhibition of CYP1B1 EROD activity was also obtained for the poly-hydroxylated flavonols quercetin and myricetin. HPLC metabolism of acacetin by CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 revealed the formation of the structurally similar flavone apigenin by demethylation at the 4'-position of the B ring, whereas the flavone eupatorin-5-methyl ether was metabolized to an as yet unidentified metabolite assigned E(5)M1. Eupatorin-5-methyl ether demonstrated a submicromolar IC(50) in the CYP1-expressing cancer cell line MDA-MB 468, while it was considerably inactive in the normal cell line MCF-10A. Homology modeling in conjunction with molecular docking calculations were employed in an effort to rationalize the activity of these flavonoids based on their CYP1-binding mode. Taken together the data suggest that dietary flavonoids exhibit three distinct modes of action with regard to cancer prevention, based on their hydroxyl and methoxy decoration: (1) inhibitors of CYP1 enzymatic activity, (2) CYP1 substrates and (3) substrates and inhibitors of CYP1 enzymes.
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