Minor Activities and Transition State Properties of the Human Steroid Hydroxylases Cytochromes P450c17 and P450c21, From Reactions Observed With Deuterium-Labeled Substrates

Biochemistry. 2012 Sep 11;51(36):7064-77. doi: 10.1021/bi300895w. Epub 2012 Aug 27.


The steroid hydroxylases CYP17A1 (P450c17, 17-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase) and CYP21A2 (P450c21, 21-hydroxylase) catalyze progesterone hydroxylation at one or more sites within a 2 Å radius. We probed their hydrogen atom abstraction mechanisms and regiochemical plasticity with deuterium-labeled substrates: 17-[(2)H]-pregnenolone; 17-[(2)H]-, 16α-[(2)H]-, 21,21,21-[(2)H(3)]-, and 21-[(2)H]-progesterone; and 21,21,21-[(2)H(3)]-17-hydroxyprogesterone. Product distribution and formation rates with recombinant human P450-oxidoreductase and wild-type human CYP17A1 or mutation A105L (reduced progesterone 16α-hydroxylation) and wild-type human CYP21A2 or mutation V359A (substantial progesterone 16α-hydroxylation) were used to calculate intramolecular and intermolecular kinetic isotope effects (KIEs). The intramolecular KIEs for CYP17A1 and mutation A105L were 4.1 and 3.8, respectively, at H-17 and 2.9 and 5.1, respectively, at H-16α. Mutation A105L 21-hydroxylates progesterone (5% of products), and wild-type CYP17A1 also catalyzes a trace of 21-hydroxylation, which increases with 16α-[(2)H]- and 17-[(2)H]-progesterone. The intramolecular KIEs with CYP21A2 mutation V359A and progesterone were 6.2 and 3.8 at H-21 and H-16α, respectively. Wild-type CYP21A2 also forms a trace of 16α-hydroxyprogesterone, which increased with 21,21,21-[(2)H(3)]-progesterone substrate. Competitive intermolecular KIEs paralleled the intramolecular KIE values, with (D)V values of 1.4-5.1 and (D)V/K values of 1.8-5.1 for these reactions. CYP17A1 and CYP21A2 mutation V359A both 16α-hydroxylate 16α-[(2)H]-progesterone with 33-44% deuterium retention, indicating stereochemical inversion. We conclude that human CYP17A1 has progesterone 21-hydroxylase activity and human CYP21A2 has progesterone 16α-hydroxylase activity, both of which are enhanced with deuterated substrates. The transition states for C-H bond cleavage in these hydroxylation reactions are either significantly nonlinear and/or asymmetric, and C-H bond breakage is partially rate-limiting for all reactions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Deuterium / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Protein Binding
  • Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase / chemistry*
  • Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase / metabolism*
  • Steroid 21-Hydroxylase / chemistry*
  • Steroid 21-Hydroxylase / metabolism*
  • Steroids / chemical synthesis
  • Steroids / chemistry
  • Steroids / metabolism


  • Steroids
  • Deuterium
  • Steroid 21-Hydroxylase
  • CYP17A1 protein, human
  • Steroid 17-alpha-Hydroxylase