Cytochrome P450 CYP3A in marsupials: Cloning and characterisation of the second identified CYP3A subfamily member, isoform 3A78 from koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

A El-Merhibi, Suong Ngo, Tamara Crittenden, Ceilidh Marchant, Ieva Stupans, Ross McKinnon

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    Cytochromes P450 (CYPs) are critically important in the oxidative metabolism of a diverse array of xenobiotics and endogenous substrates. Previously, we cloned and characterised the CYP2C, CYP4A, and CYP4B gene subfamilies from marsupials and demonstrated important species-differences in both activity and tissue expression of these CYP enzymes. Recently, we isolated the Eastern grey kangaroo CYP3A70. Here we have cloned and characterised the second identified member of marsupial CYP3A gene subfamily, CYP3A78 from the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). In addition, we have examined the gender-differences in microsomal erythromycin N-demethylation activity (a CYP3A marker) and CYP3A protein expression across test marsupial species. Significant differences in hepatic erythromycin N-demethylation activity were observed between male and female koalas, with the activity detected in female koalas being 2.5-fold higher compared to that in male koalas (p < 0.01). No gender-differences were observed in tammar wallaby or Eastern grey kangaroo. Immunoblot analysis utilising anti-human CYP3A4 antibody detected immunoreactive proteins in liver microsomes from all test male and female marsupials including the koala, tammar wallaby, and Eastern grey kangaroo, with no gender-differences detected across test marsupials. A 1610 bp koala hepatic CYP3A complete cDNA, designated CYP3A78, was cloned by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction approaches. It displays 64% nucleotide and 57% amino acid sequence identity to the Eastern grey kangaroo CYP3A70. The CYP3A78 cDNA encodes a protein of 515 amino acids, shares approximately 68% nucleotide and 56% amino acid sequence identity to human CYP3A4, and displays high sequence similarity to other published mammalian CYP3As from human, monkey, cow, pig, dog, rat, rabbit, mouse, hamster, and guinea pig. Collectively, this study provides primary molecular data regarding koala hepatic CYP3A78 gene and enables further functional analyses of CYP3A enzymes in marsupials. Given the significant role that CYP3A enzymes play in the metabolism of both endogenous and exogenous compounds, the clone provides an important step in elucidating the metabolic capacity of marsupials.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)367-376
    Number of pages10
    JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology C-Toxicology and Pharmacology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


    • CYP3A78
    • Cytochrome P450
    • Koala
    • Liver
    • Rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE)
    • Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)


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