In vitro assessment of the allelic variants of cytochrome P450

Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2012;27(1):68-84. doi: 10.2133/dmpk.dmpk-11-rv-090. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


The cytochrome P450 (CYP) superfamily is one of the most important groups of enzymes involved in drug metabolism. It is responsible for the metabolism of a large number of drugs. Many CYP isoforms are expressed polymorphically, and catalytic alterations of allelic variant proteins can affect the metabolic activities of many drugs. The CYP2D6, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP2B6 genes are particularly polymorphic, whereas CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP2E1, and CYP3A4 are relatively well conserved without common functional polymorphisms. In vitro studies using cDNA expression systems are useful tools for evaluating functional alterations of the allelic variants of CYP, particularly for low-frequency alleles. Recombinant CYPs have been successfully expressed in bacteria, yeast, baculoviruses, and several mammalian cells. Determination of CYP variant-mediated kinetic parameters (Km and Vmax) in vitro can be useful for predicting drug dosing and clearance in humans. This review focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of the various cDNA-expression systems used to determine the kinetic parameters for CYP allelic variants, the methods for determining the kinetic parameters, and the findings of in vitro studies on highly polymorphic CYPs, including CYP2D6, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP2B6.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Isoenzymes
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System