Journal of Physical Chemistry B

Binding Specificity Determines the Cytochrome P450 3A4 Mediated Enantioselective Metabolism of Metconazole

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Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) is a promiscuous enzyme, mediating the biotransformations of ∼50% of clinically used drugs, many of which are chiral molecules. Probing the interactions between CYP3A4 and chiral chemicals is thus essential for the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of enantioselective metabolism. We developed a stepwise-restrained-molecular-dynamics (MD) method to model human CYP3A4 in a complex with cis-metconazole (MEZ) isomers and performed conventional MD simulations with a total simulation time of 2.2 μs to probe the molecular interactions. Our current study, which employs a combined experimental and theoretical approach, reports for the first time on the distinct conformational changes of CYP3A4 that are induced by the enantioselective binding of cis-MEZ enantiomers. CYP3A4 preferably metabolizes cis-RS MEZ over the cis-SR isomer, with the resultant enantiomer fraction for cis-MEZ increasing rapidly from 0.5 to 0.82. cis-RS MEZ adopts a more extended structure in the active pocket with its Cl atom exposed to the solvent, whereas cis-SR MEZ sits within the hydrophobic core of the active pocket. Free-energy-perturbation calculations indicate that unfavorable van der Waals interactions between the cis-MEZ isomers and the CYP3A4 binding pocket predominantly contribute to their binding-affinity differences. These results demonstrate that binding specificity determines the cytochrome P450 3A4 mediated enantioselective metabolism of cis-MEZ.