A potent inhibitor of microsomal mixed-function oxidation reactions in insects had previously been isolated and partially purified from the gut contents of Prodenia eridania and shown to be associated with proteinase activity. Incubation of rat liver microsomal fraction with low concentrations of this inhibitor led to solubilization of NADPH–cytochrome c reductase, which was paralleled by the inactivation of reduction of cytochrome P-450 by NADPH and by the inhibition of NADPH-linked benzo[3,4]pyrene hydroxylation and aminopyrine demethylation. There was little or no effect on cytochromes b5 and P-450, nor was the capacity of the latter catalyst to combine with exogenous substrates decreased. Contrary to the findings with NADPH, preincubation of microsomal fraction with the inhibitor did not cause a significant decrease in the rate of cytochrome P-450 reduction by NADH, supporting the assumption that different catalysts are involved in the electron transfer from NADH and NADPH to cytochrome P-450. The findings indicate the importance of taking the possible presence of endogenous inhibitors into consideration when evaluating low or absent mixed-function oxidation activities found in insect systems in vitro.

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