Cytochrome P450s play a central role in the metabolism and disposition of an extremely wide range of drugs and chemical carcinogens. Individual differences in the expression of these enzymes may be an important determinant in susceptibility to adverse drug reactions, chemical toxins and mutagens. In this paper, we have measured the relative levels of expression of cytochrome P450 isoenzymes from eight gene families or subfamilies in a panel of twelve human liver samples in order to determine the individuality in their expression and whether any forms are co-regulated. Isoenzymes were identified in most cases on Western blots based on the mobility of authentic recombinant human cytochrome P450 standards. The levels of the following P450 proteins correlated with each other: CYP2A6, CYP2B6 and a protein from the CYP2C gene subfamily, CYP2E1 and a member of the CYP2A gene subfamily, CYP2C8, CYP3A3/A4 and total cytochrome P450 content. Also, the levels of two proteins in the CYP4A gene subfamily were highly correlated. These correlations are consistent with the relative regulation of members of these gene families in rats or mice. In addition, the level of expression of specific isoenzymes has also been compared with the rate of metabolism of a panel of drugs, carcinogens and model P450 substrates. These latter studies demonstrate and confirm that the correlations obtained in this manner represent a powerful approach towards the assignment of the metabolism of substrates by specific human P450 isoenzymes.

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