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Mechanism of the Third Oxidative Step in the Conversion of Androgens to Estrogens by Cytochrome P450 19A1 Steroid Aromatase

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-12-17, 05:23 authored by Francis K. Yoshimoto, F. Peter Guengerich
Aromatase is the cytochrome P450 enzyme that cleaves the C10–C19 carbon–carbon bond of androgens to form estrogens, in a three-step process. Compound I (FeO3+) and ferric peroxide (FeO2) have both been proposed in the literature as the active iron species in the third step, yielding an estrogen and formic acid. Incubation of purified aromatase with its 19-deutero-19-oxo androgen substrate was performed in the presence of 18O2, and the products were derivatized using a novel diazo reagent. Analysis of the products by high-resolution mass spectrometry showed a lack of 18O incorporation in the product formic acid, supporting only the Compound I pathway. Furthermore, a new androgen 19-carboxylic acid product was identified. The rates of nonenzymatic hydration of the 19-oxo androgen and dehydration of the 19,19-gem-diol were shown to be catalytically competent. Thus, the evidence supports Compound I and not ferric peroxide as the active iron species in the third step of the steroid aromatase reaction.