The 7-ethoxycoumarin O-deethylase activity of rat liver cytochrome P450 2B1 reconstituted with NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase and lipid was inactivated by 2-ethynylnaphthalene (2EN) in a time- and NADPH-dependent manner, and the loss of activity followed pseudo-first-order kinetics. The extrapolated KI and kinactivation were 0.08 microM and 0.83 min-1, respectively. The loss of 7-ethoxycoumarin O-deethylation activity displayed a number of characteristics consistent with mechanism-based inactivation, including irreversibility, saturability, protection by an alternate substrate, and the lack of an effect of exogenous nucleophiles on the inactivation. The inactivation was not accompanied by a concomitant loss of spectrally detectable cytochrome P450. HPLC analysis showed that [3H]2EN was irreversibly bound to the protein moiety of cytochrome P450 and the stoichiometry of inactivation was approximately 1.3 mol of 2EN bound per mole of cytochrome P450. Liquid chromatographic and GC-MS analyses of the organic extracts from these incubations showed that the major metabolite was 2-naphthylacetic acid, and a partition ratio of 4-5 mol of acid produced per mole of cytochrome P450 2B1 inactivated was determined. A radiolabeled peptide, approximately 6.5 kDa when analyzed by Tricine-sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), was isolated by HPLC from a tryptic digest of the [3H]2EN-inactivated cytochrome P450 and NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase. Sequence data were obtained after cyanogen bromide cleavage of this amino-terminally blocked peptide. These results in conjunction with the results from the cleavage of the intact [3H]2EN-inactivated cytochrome P450 by cyanogen bromide and separation of the peptides either by HPLC or by Tricine-SDS-PAGE followed by transfer of the peptides to a poly(vinylidene difluoride) membrane and sequencing of the labeled peptides from both experiments, led to the identification of a 2EN-modified active-site peptide with the sequence ISLLSLFFAGTETSSTTLRYGFLLM. This corresponds to positions 290-314 in cytochrome P450 2B1. Sequence alignments of cytochrome P450 2B1 with cytochrome P450 2B1 with cytochrome P450 101 predict that this region might correspond to helix I of the bacterial protein [Poulos, T.L. (1988) Pharm. Res. 5, 67-75] that contains a highly conserved threonine residue involved in oxygen binding.