Allosteric activation of cytochrome P450 3A4 by α-naphthoflavone: branch point regulation revealed by isotope dilution analysis

Biochemistry. 2011 Nov 22;50(46):10041-51. doi: 10.1021/bi2013454. Epub 2011 Oct 28.


Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) is the dominant xenobiotic metabolizing CYP. Despite great interest in CYP enzymology, two in vitro aspects of CYP3A4 catalysis are still not well understood, namely, sequential metabolism and allosteric activation. We have therefore investigated such a system in which both phenomena are present. Here we report that the sequential metabolism of Nile Red (NR) is accelerated by the heterotropic allosteric effector α-naphthoflavone (ANF). ANF increases the rates of formation for NR metabolites M1 and M2 and also perturbs the metabolite ratio in favor of M2. Thus, ANF has as an allosteric effect on a kinetic branch point. Co-incubating deuterium-labeled NR and unlabeled M1, we show that ANF increases k(cat)/k(off) ~1.8-fold in favor of the k(cat) of M2 production. Steady-state metabolic experiments are analyzed using a kinetic model in which the enzyme and substrates are not in rapid equilibrium, and this distinction allows for the estimation of rates of catalysis for the formation of both the primary (M1) and secondary (M2) products, as well as the partitioning of enzyme between these states. These results are compared with those of earlier spectroscopic investigations of NR and ANF cooperativity, and a mechanism of ANF heteroactivation is presented that involves effects on substrate off rate and coupling efficiency.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / metabolism*
  • Deuterium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Indicator Dilution Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Oxazines / metabolism*


  • Oxazines
  • Deuterium
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • nile red