The metabolism of the anticonvulsant mephenytoin is subject to a genetic polymorphism. In 2-5% of Caucasians and 18-23% of Japanese subjects a specific cytochrome P-450 isozyme, P-450 meph, is functionally deficient or missing. We have accumulated evidence that autoimmune antibodies observed in sera of patients with tienilic acid induced hepatitis (anti-liver kidney microsome 2 or anti-LKM2 antibodies) specifically recognize the cytochrome P-450 involved in the mephenytoin hydroxylation polymorphism. This is demonstrated by immunoinhibition and immunoprecipitation of microsomal (S)-mephenytoin 4-hydroxylation activity and by the recognition by anti-LKM2 antibodies of a single protein band on immunoblots of human liver microsomes after sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis or isoelectric focusing. The cytochrome P-450 recognized by anti-LKM2 antibodies was immunopurified from microsomes derived from livers of extensive (EM) or poor metabolizers (PM) of (S)-mephenytoin. Comparison of the EM-type cytochrome P-450 to that isolated from PM livers revealed no difference in regard to immuno-cross-reactivity, molecular weight, isoelectric point, relative content in microsomes, two-dimensional tryptic peptide maps, one-dimensional peptide maps with three proteases, amino acid composition, and amino-terminal protein sequence. Finally, the same protein was precipitated from microsomes prepared from the liver biopsy of a subject phenotyped in vivo as a poor metabolizer of mephenytoin. These data strongly suggest that the mephenytoin hydroxylation deficiency is caused by a minor structural change leading to a functionally altered cytochrome P-450 isozyme.
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