Molecular modeling of cytochrome P450 2B1: Mode of membrane insertion and substrate specificity

Renke Dai, Matthew R. Pincus, Fred K. Friedman

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30 Scopus citations


A molecular model of a mammalian membrane-bound cytochrome P450, rat P450 2B1, was constructed in order to elucidate its mode of attachment to the endoplasmic reticulum and the structural basis of substrate specificity. The model was primarily derived from the structure of P450BM-3, which as a class II P450 is the most functionally similar P450 of known structure. However, model development was also guided by the conserved core regions of P450cam and P450terp. To optimally align the P450 2B1 and P450BM-3 sequences, multiple alignment was performed using sequences of five P450s in the II family, followed by minor adjustments on the basis of secondary structure predictions. The resulting P450 2B1 homology model structure was refined by molecular dynamics heating, equilibration, simulation, and energy minimization. The model suggests that the F-G loop serves as both a hydrophobic membrane anchor and entrance channel for hydrophobic substrates from the membrane to the P450 active site. To assess the mode of substrate binding, benzphetamine, testosterone, and benzo[a]pyrene were docked into the active site. The hydrophobic substrate-binding pocket is consistent with the preferences of this P450 toward hydrophobic substrates, while the presence of an acidic Glu-105 in this pocket is consistent with the preference of this P450 for the cationic substrate benzphetamine. This model is thus consistent with several known experimental properties of this P450, such as membrane attachment and substrate selectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Protein Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytochrome P450
  • Membrane
  • Molecular modeling
  • Substrate specificity


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