The oxy-ferrous complex of cytochrome P450 2B4 (2B4) has been prepared at -40°C with and without bound substrate [butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)] and radiolytically one-electron cryoreduced at 77 K. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) shows that in both cases the observed product of cryoreduction is the hydroperoxo-ferriheme species, indicating that the microsomal P450 contains an efficient distal-pocket proton-delivery network. In the absence of substrate, two distinct hydroperoxo-ferriheme signals are observed, reflecting the presence of two major conformational substates in the oxy-ferrous precursor. Only one species is observed when BHT is bound, indicating a more ordered active site. BHT binding also changes the g-tensor components of the hydroperoxo-ferric 2B4 intermediate, indicating that the substrate modulates the properties of this intermediate. Step annealing the cryoreduced ternary 2B4 complex at ≥ 175 K causes the loss of hydroperoxo-ferric 2B4 and the parallel appearance of high-spin ferric 2B4; liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectroscopy (LC-MS/MS) analysis shows that in this process BHT is quantitatively converted to two products, hydroxymethyl BHT (1) and 3-hydroxy-tert-butyl BHT (2). This implies that the hydroperoxo-ferric 2B4 prepared by cryoreduction is catalytically active and that the high-spin state observed after annealing contains an enzyme-bound product of BHT monooxygenation. The ratio of products generated during cryoreduction and annealing (6.2/1) is significantly different from the ratio (2.5/1) at ambient temperature. These findings suggest that substrate is held more rigidly relative to the oxidizing species at low temperatures and/or that dissociation of FeOOH is inhibited at low temperature. As in experiments under ambient conditions, product formation is not observed with the inactive F429H 2B4 mutant.
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