Insights into Drug Metabolism from Modelling Studies of Cytochrome P450-Drug Interactions
The cytochromes P450 (CYPs) comprise a vast superfamily of enzymes found in virtually all life forms. In mammals, xenobiotic metabolising CYPs provide crucial protection from the harmful effects of exposure to a wide variety of chemicals, including environmental toxins and therapeutic drugs. Elucidating the structural features of CYPs that contribute to their metabolism of structurally diverse substrates impacts on the rational design of improved therapeutic drugs and specific inhibitors. Models capable of predicting the possible involvement of CYPs in the metabolism of drugs or drug candidates are thus important tools in drug discovery and development. Ideally, functional information would be obtained from crystal structures of all the CYPs of interest. Initially only crystal structures of distantly related bacterial CYPs were available - comparative modelling techniques were used to bridge the gap and produce structural models of human CYPs, and thereby obtain some useful functional information. A significant step forward in the reliability of these models came six years ago with the first crystal structure of a mammalian CYP, rabbit CYP2C5, followed by the structures of five human enzymes, CYP2A6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4, and a second rabbit enzyme, CYP2B4. The evolution of a CYP2D6 model, leading to the validation of the model as an in silico tool for predicting binding and metabolism, is presented as a case study.
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