The role of human cytochromes P4501A1, -1A2, -3A4, and -3A5 in the metabolism of the polycyclic aza-aromatic hydrocarbons 7-methylbenz(c)acridine and dibenz(aj)acridine was investigated. The regioselectivity of the reactions was determined, as well as the associated stereoselectivity in the production of dihydrodiol metabolites and K-region oxides. Metabolite distributions were also examined in the presence of the epoxide hydrolase inhibitor 1,1,1-trichloropropylene-2,3-oxide and the P450 modulator α-naphthoflavone. P4501A2 was most regioselective for the production of the proximate carcinogen; the 3,4-dihydrodiol of 7-methylbenz(c)acridine and P4503A4 showed the highest regioselectivity for K-region oxidation. In contrast, the analogous putative proximate carcinogen of dibenz(a,j)acridine was formed with the highest relative abundance by P4503A4, while P4501A2 was most regioselective for K-region oxidation. For both compounds the proximate carcinogens possessed predominantly the 3R,4R-absolute configuration, independent of the P450 catalyzing the reaction. The K-region dihydrodiols of 7-methylbenz(c)acridine were formed with no stereoselectivity, except with P4501A2 which favored production of the S,S isomer. In contrast the K-region dihydrodiol of dibenz(a,j)acridine was formed by P4501A1 and P4501A2 as the R,R isomer with almost 100% optical purity. P4501A2 and 3A4 showed no stereoselectivity in the formation of the K-region oxide of 7-methylbenz(c)acridine, while P4501A1 produced the 5R,6S-oxide with low optical purity. For dibenz(a,j)aridine 5,6-oxide, P4501A1 predominantly formed 5S,6R-oxide (80% pure). These results emphasize the importance of the composition and levels of expressed P450s of an individual in relation to the activation and detoxification of toxicants.


This work was supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (930133), the Anti-Cancer Foundation of the Universities of South Australia, USPHS Grant GM36590CRHT, and an Australian Postgraduate Research Award to S. J. R-T.

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