The central theme of this program involves studies of the mechanisms of action of the drug-metabolizing enzymes cytochrome P450 and other heme proteins such as myoglobin and cytochrome c. We also investigate metalloporphyrin model compounds to elucidate how these enzymatic processes occur. The principal approaches involve kinetic and mechanistic studies of enzyme-substrate interactions, the synthesis and characterization of reactive iron porphyrin species as models of putative enzymic intermediates and to relate the interconversions of these species toward a molecular understanding of these proteins. Two additional applications of the model compounds have evolved in the course of this project. We have discovered that some iron porphyrins are highly bioactive in suppressing protein nitration by peroxynitrite. Other metalloporphyrins have emerged as effective biomimics of P450 action, alowing the facile production of useful quantities of drug metabolites, often a bottleneck in drug development. Cytochrome P450 is the central protein involved in drug detoxification and hormone metabolism while the related nitric oxide synthase is the source of the signal molecules nitric oxide and peroxynitrite. Synthetic metalloporphyrins can be employed as probes to intervene in these processes in diagnostic ways. Thus, these agents may prove to be significant tools for elaborating the biology of superoxide, peroxynitrite and NO. These same metalloporphyrins have shown impressive activity in animals suggesting their application as pharmaceutical agents in degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cardiomyopathy ang age-related disorders. Our effort seeks to provide a foundation of mechanistic and kinetic information that can be applied to in vitro models, cell culture studies and whole animal models of specific disease states such as ischemia-reperfusion, sepsis and autoimmune diseases. Experiments are aimed at determining what reactive intermediates are formed and what their biological targets are likely to be. The elaboration of these processes will facilitate the design of metal complexes for the catalytic decomposition of peroxynitrite and these other species, while studies of protein tyrosine nitration will elucidate how proteins are damaged under conditions of oxidative and nitrosative stress. Novel types of rapid kinetic analysis have been developed to study the reactivity observed in these processes. Binding of cytochrome c to synthetic and semi-synthetic phospholipid assemblies, which afford a system of intermediate complexity, are used to model and understand the larger scale events in the role of cytochrome c in triggering lipid oxidation and programmed cell death (apoptosis).

Public Health Relevance

Cytochrome P450 enzymes mediate phase 1 drug metabolism. Other heme proteins such as myoglobin and cytochrome c are involved in nitric oxide catabolism and the initiation of programed cell death (apoptosis). Our program aims to understand these processes. The outcome could lead to more efficatious drugs and new ways of controlling tissue damage that arise from oxidative and nitrosative stress.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
No Study Section (in-house review) (NSS)
Program Officer
Okita, Richard T
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Princeton University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Nelp, Micah T; Kates, Patrick A; Hunt, John T et al. (2018) Immune-modulating enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase is effectively inhibited by targeting its apo-form. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:3249-3254
Huang, Xiongyi; Groves, John T (2018) Oxygen Activation and Radical Transformations in Heme Proteins and Metalloporphyrins. Chem Rev 118:2491-2553
Gao, Hongxin; Groves, John T (2017) Fast Hydrogen Atom Abstraction by a Hydroxo Iron(III) Porphyrazine. J Am Chem Soc 139:3938-3941
Hsieh, Chun H; Huang, Xiongyi; Amaya, José A et al. (2017) The Enigmatic P450 Decarboxylase OleT Is Capable of, but Evolved To Frustrate, Oxygen Rebound Chemistry. Biochemistry 56:3347-3357
Huang, Xiongyi; Groves, John T (2017) Beyond ferryl-mediated hydroxylation: 40 years of the rebound mechanism and C-H activation. J Biol Inorg Chem 22:185-207
Wang, Xiaoshi; Ullrich, René; Hofrichter, Martin et al. (2015) Heme-thiolate ferryl of aromatic peroxygenase is basic and reactive. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:3686-91
Boaz, Nicholas C; Bell, Seth R; Groves, John T (2015) Ferryl protonation in oxoiron(IV) porphyrins and its role in oxygen transfer. J Am Chem Soc 137:2875-85
Liu, Wei; Groves, John T (2015) Manganese Catalyzed C-H Halogenation. Acc Chem Res 48:1727-35
Stavniichuk, Roman; Shevalye, Hanna; Lupachyk, Sergey et al. (2014) Peroxynitrite and protein nitration in the pathogenesis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes Metab Res Rev 30:669-78
Groves, John T (2014) Enzymatic C-H bond activation: Using push to get pull. Nat Chem 6:89-91

Showing the most recent 10 out of 24 publications