Cytochrome b(5) (cyt b(5)) is a 15-kDa amphipathic protein with a cytosolic amino-terminal catalytic heme domain, which is anchored to the microsomal membrane by a hydrophobic transmembrane alpha-helix at its carboxyl terminus. These two domains are connected by an approximately 15-amino acid linker domain, Ser(90)-Asp(104), which has been modified by site-directed mutagenesis to investigate whether the length or sequence of the linker influences the ability of cyt b(5) to bind ferric cytochrome P450 2B4 and donate an electron to oxyferrous (cyt P450 2B4), thereby stimulating catalysis. Because shortening the linker by 8 or more amino acids markedly inhibited the ability of cyt b(5) to bind cyt P450 2B4 and stimulate catalysis by this isozyme, it is postulated 7 amino acids are sufficient to allow a productive interaction. All mutant cyts b(5) except the protein lacking the entire 15-amino acid linker inserted normally into the microsomal membrane. Alternatively, lengthening the linker by 16 amino acids, reversing the sequence of the amino acids in the linker, and mutating conserved linker residues did not significantly alter the ability of cyt b(5) to interact with cyt P450 2B4. A model for the membrane-bound cyt b(5)-cyt P450 complex is presented.
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