The effect of mutating Gly 478 to Ala in rat cytochrome P450 2B1 on the metabolism of N-benzyl-1-aminobenzotriazole was investigated. The 7-ethoxy-4-(trifluoromethyl)coumarin O-deethylation activity of the wild-type enzyme was completely inactivated by incubating with 1 microM BBT. The G478A mutant, however, was not inactivated by incubating with up to 10 microM BBT. Whereas metabolism of BBT by the wild-type 2B1 resulted in the formation of benzaldehyde, benzotriazole, aminobenzotriazole, and a new metabolite, the G478A mutant generated only the later. This metabolite was found by NMR, IR, and mass spectrometry to be a dimeric product formed from the reaction of two BBT molecules. Two spectral binding constants, a high-affinity constant that was the same for both enzymes (30-39 microM) and a low-affinity constant that was 5-fold lower for the mutant enzyme (0.3 mM vs 1.4 mM), were observed with BBT. The apparent Km and kcat values for the G478A mutant with BBT were 0.3 mM and 12 nmol (nmol of P450)-1 min-1, respectively. Molecular modeling studies of BBT bound in the active site of P450 2B1 suggested that a mutation of Gly 478 to Ala would result in steric hindrance and suppress oxidation of BBT at the 1-amino nitrogen. When BBT was oriented in the 2B1 active site such that oxidation at the 7-benzyl carbon could occur, no steric overlap between Ala 478 and the substrate was observed. Thus, this orientation of BBT would be preferred by the mutant leading to oxidation at the 7-benzyl carbon and subsequent dimer formation. These findings indicate that a glycine 478 to alanine substitution in P450 2B1 altered the binding of BBT such that inactivating BBT metabolites were no longer generated.