Formation of P450 · P450 complexes and their effect on P450 function

Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Mar;133(3):299-310. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2011.11.009. Epub 2011 Nov 29.


Cytochromes P450 (P450) are membrane-bound enzymes that catalyze the monooxygenation of a diverse array of xenobiotic and endogenous compounds. The P450s responsible for foreign compound metabolism generally are localized in the endoplasmic reticulum of the liver, lung and small intestine. P450 enzymes do not act alone but require an interaction with other electron transfer proteins such as NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (CPR) and cytochrome b(5). Because P450s are localized in the endoplasmic reticulum with these and other ER-resident proteins, there is a potential for protein-protein interactions to influence P450 function. There has been increasing evidence that P450 enzymes form complexes in the ER, with compelling support that formation of P450 · P450 complexes can significantly influence their function. Our goal is to review the research supporting the formation of P450 · P450 complexes, their specificity, and how drug metabolism may be affected. This review describes the potential mechanisms by which P450s may interact, and provides evidence to support each of the possible mechanisms. Additionally, evidence for the formation of both heteromeric and homomeric P450 complexes are reviewed. Finally, direct physical evidence for P450 complex formation in solution and in membranes is summarized, and questions directing the future research of functional P450 interactions are discussed with respect to their potential impact on drug metabolism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / chemistry
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase / metabolism


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase