NADPH-P450 oxidoreductase (CPR) is essential for the activity of cytochrome P450 (P450). Previous studies demonstrated that CPR regulates the levels of various P450 isoforms in vitro. We investigated the mechanistic basis for this regulation. By transfection of Chinese hamster ovary DUKXB11 cells we obtained the cell line DUKX/2D6, which expressed human CYP2D6, a P450 isoform. Subsequently, DUKX/2D6 cells were transfected with human CPR cDNA to generate the cell line DUKX/2D6/CPR-3. Expression of recombinant CPR decreased the level of spectrally detectable CYP2D6 holoprotein in DUKX/2D6/CPR-3 cells by 70%, whereas the level of immunodetectable apoprotein remained unchanged. Addition of the radical scavenger DMSO increased levels of CYP2D6 holoenzyme in DUKX/2D6/CPR-3 cells but not in DUKX/2D6 cells. A similar effect was noted when cells were grown in the presence of hemin. Importantly, combined treatment with DMSO and hemin increased levels of CYP2D6 holoenzyme in DUKX/2D6/CPR-3 but not in DUKX/2D6 cells even further than either treatment alone. None of these treatments affected the level of immunodetectable CYP2D6. This demonstrates that expression of CPR increases production of damaging radicals but also that CPR may alter haem homoeostasis. In agreement with this, the activity of haem oxygenase, a rate-limiting enzyme in haem metabolism, was compared with that in DUKX/DHFR control cells (expressing dihydrofolate reductase), and was 3-fold higher in DUKX/2D6/CPR-3 but similar in DUKX/2D6 cells. Furthermore, treatment of cells with sodium arsenite increased levels of haem oxygenase concomitant with a marked decrease of spectrally detectable CYP2D6 and a rise in levels of ferritin, which sequesters free iron released from the destruction of haem. These data demonstrate that CPR regulates P450 activity by supplying electrons and also by altering P450 levels via radical-and haem oxygenase-mediated pathways.

Abbreviations used: CPR, NADPH-P450 oxidoreductase; DHFR, dihydrofolate reductase; HO, haem oxygenase; HO-1, HO type 1; P450, cytochrome P450; MTX, methotrexate; CHO, Chinese hamster ovary.

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