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Cytochrome P450 (P450, CYP) 17A1 plays a critical role in steroid metabolism, catalyzing both the 17α-hydroxylation of pregnenolone and progesterone and the subsequent 17α,20-lyase reactions to form dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione (Andro), respectively, critical for generating glucocorticoids and androgens. Human P450 17A1 reaction rates examined are enhanced by the accessory protein cytochrome (), but the exact role of in P450 17A1-catalyzed reactions is unclear as are several details of these reactions. Here, we examined in detail the processivity of the 17α-hydroxylation and lyase steps. did not enhance reaction rates by decreasing the rates of any of the steroids. Steroid binding to P450 17A1 was more complex than a simple two-state system. Pre-steady-state experiments indicated lag phases for Andro production from progesterone and for DHEA from pregnenolone, indicating a distributive character of the enzyme. However, we observed processivity in pregnenolone/DHEA pulse-chase experiments. ()-Orteronel was three times more inhibitory toward the conversion of 17α-hydroxypregnenolone to DHEA than toward the 17α-hydroxylation of pregnenolone. IC values for ()-orteronel were identical for blocking DHEA formation from pregnenolone and for 17α-hydroxylation, suggestive of processivity. Global kinetic modeling helped assign sets of rate constants for individual or groups of reactions, indicating that human P450 17A1 is an inherently distributive enzyme but that some processivity is present, some of the 17α-OH pregnenolone formed from pregnenolone did not dissociate from P450 17A1 before conversion to DHEA. Our results also suggest multiple conformations of P450 17A1, as previously proposed on the basis of NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography.
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