The purification of cytochrome P-450-dependent 14 alpha-sterol demethylase (P-450DM) from the important opportunistic fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, is described. Optimal purification (875-fold) was achieved by extracting the cytochrome from microsomes with sodium cholate followed by hydroxyapatite, octyl-Sepharose and CM-Sepharose chromatographies, giving a cytochrome preparation of 17.5 nmol/mg of protein. By the use of SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis the cytochrome was judged to be highly purified on the basis of Coomassie Brilliant Blue staining of protein. The Mr of P-450DM was estimated to be 51,000. The absorption spectrum of oxidized P-450DM was characteristic of a low-spin cytochrome, and its reduced CO complex had a Soret absorption peak at 447 nm. When reconstituted in a model membrane system of dilauroylphosphatidylcholine with NADPH and O2, P-450DM catalysed the complete 14 alpha-demethylation of lanosterol, which was inhibited by CO. The cytochrome appeared to have a high degree of substrate specificity; it was unable to oxidize a number of xenobiotic compounds in the reconstituted assay.

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