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Early role during chemical evolution for cytochrome P450 in oxygen detoxification

Naturevolume 256pages509511 (1975) | Download Citation

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Abstract

IT is generally held that early in the evolutionary history of the Earth, when abiogenic chemicals were forming associations possessing attributes by which we now define living organisms, this planet had a reducing atmosphere. The subsequent appearance of free or molecular oxygen must have had a profound effect on such poorly specialised life forms and many would have perished. It was long assumed that the adaptive enzymatic changes of the successful forms were chiefly the elaboration of the respiratory chain enzymes, peroxidases and catalase. Research on superoxide dismutase1 has suggested that this enzyme may also have controlled oxygen toxicity in ancient living tissue. We have studied cytochrome P450, which also metabolises oxygen, and believe that this protein may possibly be more primitive than those considered previously and may even have emerged before the advent of atmospheric oxygen.

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Affiliations

  1. Laboratory of Human Reproduction and Reproductive Biology, Department of Biological Chemistry, Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115

    • ROHAN H. WICKRAMASINGHE
    •  & CLAUDE A. VILLEE

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https://doi.org/10.1038/256509a0

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