Conformational dynamics and molecular interaction reactions of recombinant cytochrome P450scc (CYP11A1) detected by fluorescence energy transfer

Galina I. Lepesheva, Natalya V. Strushkevich, Sergey A. Usanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Bovine adrenocortical cytochrome P450scc (P450scc) was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified as the substrate bound, high-spin complex (16.7 nmol of heme per mg of protein, expression level in E. coli about 400-700 nmol/l). The recombinant protein was characterized by comparison with native P450scc purified from adrenal cortex mitochondria. To study the interaction of the electron transfer proteins during the functioning of the heme protein, recombinant P450scc was selectively modified with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC). The present paper shows that modified P450scc, purified by affinity chromatography using adrenodoxin-Sepharose to remove non-covalently bound FITC, retains the functional activity of the unmodified enzyme, including its ability to bind adrenodoxin. Based on the efficiency of resonance fluorescence energy transfer in the donor-acceptor pair, FITC-heme, we calculated the distance between Lys338, selectively labeled with the dye, and the heme of P450scc. The intensity of fluorescence from the label dramatically changes during: (a) denaturation of P450scc; (b) changing the spin state or redox potential of the heme protein; (c) formation of the carbon monoxide complex of reduced P450scc; (d) as well as during reactions of intermolecular interactions, such as changes of the state of aggregation, complex formation with the substrate, binding to the electron transfer partner adrenodoxin, or insertion of the protein into an artificial phospholipid membrane. Selective chemical modification of P450scc with FITC proved to be a very useful method to study the dynamics of conformational changes of the recombinant heme protein. The data obtained indicate that functionally important conformational changes of P450scc are large-scale ones, i.e. they are not limited only to changes in the dynamics of the protein active center. The results of the present study also indicate that chemical modification of Lys338 of bovine adrenocortical P450scc does not dramatically alter the activity of the heme protein, but does result in a decrease of protein stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Protein Structure and Molecular Enzymology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Conformational dynamics
  • Cytochrome P450scc
  • Fluorescence energy transfer
  • Heterologous expression
  • Molecular interaction reaction
  • Selective chemical modification


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