The structural basis for homotropic and heterotropic cooperativity of midazolam metabolism by human cytochrome P450 3A4

Biochemistry. 2011 Dec 20;50(50):10804-18. doi: 10.1021/bi200924t. Epub 2011 Nov 22.


Human cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) metabolizes a significant portion of clinically relevant drugs and often exhibits complex steady-state kinetics that can involve homotropic and heterotropic cooperativity between bound ligands. In previous studies, the hydroxylation of the sedative midazolam (MDZ) exhibited homotropic cooperativity via a decrease in the ratio of 1'-OH-MDZ to 4-OH-MDZ at higher drug concentrations. In this study, MDZ exhibited heterotropic cooperativity with the antiepileptic drug carbamazepine (CBZ) with characteristic decreases in the 1'-OH-MDZ to 4-OH-MDZ ratios. To unravel the structural basis of MDZ cooperativity, we probed MDZ and CBZ bound to CYP3A4 using longitudinal T(1) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation and molecular docking with AutoDock 4.2. The distances calculated from longitudinal T(1) NMR relaxation were used during simulated annealing to constrain the molecules to the substrate-free X-ray crystal structure of CYP3A4. These simulations revealed that either two MDZ molecules or an MDZ molecule and a CBZ molecule assume a stacked configuration within the CYP3A4 active site. In either case, the proton at position 4 of the MDZ molecule was closer to the heme than the protons of the 1'-CH(3) group. In contrast, molecular docking of a single molecule of MDZ revealed that the molecule was preferentially oriented with the 1'-CH(3) position closer to the heme than position 4. This study provides the first detailed molecular analysis of heterotropic and homotropic cooperativity of a human cytochrome P450 from an NMR-based model. Cooperativity of ligand binding through direct interaction between stacked molecules may represent a common motif for homotropic and heterotropic cooperativity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Anticonvulsants / chemistry
  • Anticonvulsants / metabolism
  • Biocatalysis
  • Carbamazepine / chemistry
  • Carbamazepine / metabolism
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / chemistry
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / chemistry
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Ligands
  • Midazolam / analogs & derivatives
  • Midazolam / chemistry
  • Midazolam / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Ligands
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Carbamazepine
  • 4-hydroxymidazolam
  • 1-hydroxymethylmidazolam
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • CYP3A4 protein, human
  • Midazolam