Mammalian cytochrome P450 enzymes catalyze the phenol-coupling step in endogenous morphine biosynthesis.

Grobe N, Zhang B, Fisinger U, Kutchan TM, Zenk MH, Guengerich FP
J Biol Chem. 2009 284 (36): 24425-31

PMID: 19561069 · PMCID: PMC2782035 · DOI:10.1074/jbc.M109.011320

A cytochrome P450 (P450) enzyme in porcine liver that catalyzed the phenol-coupling reaction of the substrate (R)-reticuline to salutaridine was previously purified to homogeneity (Amann, T., Roos, P. H., Huh, H., and Zenk, M. H. (1995) Heterocycles 40, 425-440). This reaction was found to be catalyzed by human P450s 2D6 and 3A4 in the presence of (R)-reticuline and NADPH to yield not a single product, but rather (-)-isoboldine, (-)-corytuberine, (+)-pallidine, and salutaridine, the para-ortho coupled established precursor of morphine in the poppy plant and most likely also in mammals. (S)-Reticuline, a substrate of both P450 enzymes, yielded the phenol-coupled alkaloids (+)-isoboldine, (+)-corytuberine, (-)-pallidine, and sinoacutine; none of these serve as a morphine precursor. Catalytic efficiencies were similar for P450 2D6 and P450 3A4 in the presence of cytochrome b(5) with (R)-reticuline as substrate. The mechanism of phenol coupling is not yet established; however, we favor a single cycle of iron oxidation to yield salutaridine and the three other alkaloids from (R)-reticuline. The total yield of salutaridine formed can supply the 10 nm concentration of morphine found in human neuroblastoma cell cultures and in brain tissues of mice.

MeSH Terms (14)

Animals Benzylisoquinolines Catalysis Cell Line, Tumor Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A Humans Iron Mice Morphinans Morphine Oxidation-Reduction Phenols Rats

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