High-resolution crystal structure of cytochrome P450cam

Thomas L. Poulos, Barry C. Finzel, Andrew J. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1271 Scopus citations


The crystal structure of Pseudomonas putida cytochrome P450cam with its substrate, camphor, bound has been refined to R = 0.19 at a normal resolution of 1.63 Å. While the 1.63 Å model confirms our initial analysis based on the 2.6 Å model, the higher resolution structure has revealed important new details. These include a more precise assignment of sequence to secondary structure, the identification of three cis-proline residues, and a more detailed picture of substrate-protein interactions. In addition, 204 ordered solvent molecules have been found, one of which appears to be a cation. The cation stabilizes an unfavorable polypeptide conformation involved in forming part of the active site pocket, suggesting that the cation may be the metal ion binding site associated with the well-known ability of metal ions to enhance formation of the enzyme-substrate complex. Another unusual polypeptide conformation forms the proposed oxygen-binding pocket. A localized distortion and widening of the distal helix provides a pocket for molecular oxygen. An intricate system of side-chain to backbone hydrogen bonds aids in stabilizing the required local disruption in helical geometry. Sequence homologies strongly suggest a common oxygen-binding pocket in all P450 species. Further sequence comparisons between P450 species indicate common three-dimensional structures with changes focused in a region of the molecule postulated to be associated with the control of substrate specificity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-700
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 5 1987

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr I. C. Gunsalus for the P450cam used in these studies. and Dr Gary Gilliland for reviewing the manuscript. This work was supported in part by NIH grants GM33325 and GM33688.


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