Catalyzing Drug Interactions With Light

An inexpensive dye has enabled scientists to harness the catalytic power of the cytochrome P450 enzyme for the production of valuable drugs.

AsianScientist (Jan. 29, 2015) – Researchers have developed a new platform to induce drug-enzyme reactions using light. Their results have been published in the international edition of Angewandte Chemie and featured as the back cover.

Cytochrome P450 is an enzyme involved in oxidative response which has an important role in drug and hormone metabolism in organisms. It is known to be responsible for the metabolism of 75 percent of the drugs used in humans and is considered a fundamental factor in new drug development.

To activate cytochrome P450, the enzyme must first receive an electron by reducing the enzyme. In addition, NADPH (a coenzyme) needs to be present. However, since NADPH is expensive, the use of cytochrome P450 was limited to the laboratory and has not yet been commercialized.

Instead, a team of researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) led by Professors Park Chan Beum and Jeong Ki Jun, used photosensitizer eosin Y to develop what they call “Whole Cell Photo-Biocatalysis” in Escherichia coli bacteria. By exposing inexpensive eosin Y to light, cytochrome P450 reaction was catalyzed to produce the expensive metabolic material.

Mimetic Diagram of Electron Transfer from Light to Cytochrome P450 Enzyme via Eosin Y. Credit: KAIST.
Mimetic Diagram of Electron Transfer from Light to Cytochrome P450 Enzyme via Eosin Y. Credit: KAIST.

Park said, “This research enabled industrial application of cytochrome P450 enzyme, which was previous limited. This technology will help greatly in producing high value medical products using cytochrome P450 enzyme.”

The article can be found at: Park et al. (2014) Cofactor-Free Light-Driven Whole-Cell Cytochrome P450 Catalysis.


Source: KAIST.
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