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Microbial P450 Enzymes in Bioremediation and Drug Discovery: Emerging Potentials and Challenges

[ Vol. 19 , Issue. 1 ]


Sukanta S. Bhattacharya and Jagjit S. Yadav*   Pages 75 - 86 ( 12 )


Cytochrome P450 enzymes are a structurally conserved but functionally diverse group of heme-containing mixed function oxidases found across both prokaryotic and eukaryotic forms of the microbial world. Microbial P450s are known to perform diverse functions ranging from the synthesis of cell wall components to xenobiotic/drug metabolism to biodegradation of environmental chemicals. Conventionally, many microbial systems have been reported to mimic mammalian P450-like activation of drugs and were proposed as the in-vitro models of mammalian drug metabolism. Recent reports suggest that native or engineered forms of specific microbial P450s from these and other microbial systems could be employed for desired specific biotransformation reactions toward natural and synthetic (drug) compounds underscoring their emerging potential in drug improvement and discovery. On the other hand, microorganisms particularly fungi and actinomycetes have been shown to possess catabolic P450s with unusual potential to degrade toxic environmental chemicals including persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Wood-rotting basidiomycete fungi in particular have revealed the presence of exceptionally large P450 repertoire (P450ome) in their genomes, majority of which are however orphan (with no known function). Our pre- and post-genomic studies have led to functional characterization of several fungal P450s inducible in response to exposure to several environmental toxicants and demonstration of their potential in bioremediation of these chemicals. This review is an attempt to summarize the postgenomic unveiling of this versatile enzyme superfamily in microbial systems and investigation of their potential to synthesize new drugs and degrade persistent pollutants, among other biotechnological applications.


Cytochrome P450, bioremediation, xenobiotics, drug metabolism, drug discovery, motifs, hydroxylation.


Microbial Pathogenesis and Toxicogenomics Laboratory, Department of Environmental Health, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0056, OH, Department of Environmental Health, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio- 45267, OH

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