An in vitro system for measuring genotoxicity mediated by human CYP3A4 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Michael Fasullo, Julian Freedland, Nicholas St. John, Cinzia Cera, Patricia Egner, Matthew Hartog, Xinxin Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


P450 activity is required to metabolically activate many chemical carcinogens, rendering them highly genotoxic. CYP3A4 is the most abundantly expressed P450 enzyme in the liver, accounting for most drug metabolism and constituting 50% of all hepatic P450 activity. CYP3A4 is also expressed in extrahepatic tissues, including the intestine. However, the role of CYP3A4 in activating chemical carcinogens into potent genotoxins is unclear. To facilitate efforts to determine whether CYP3A4, per se, can activate carcinogens into potent genotoxins, we expressed human CYP3A4 in the DNA-repair mutant (rad4 rad51) strain of budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and tested the novel, recombinant yeast strain for ability to report CYP3A4-mediated genotoxicity of a well-known genotoxin, aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). Yeast microsomes containing human CYP3A4, but not those that do not contain CYP3A4, were active in hydroxylation of diclofenac, a known CYP3A4 substrate drug, a result confirming CYP3A4 activity in the recombinant yeast strain. In cells exposed to AFB1, the expression of CYP3A4 supported DNA adduct formation, chromosome rearrangements, cell death, and expression of the large subunit of ribonucleotide reductase, Rnr3, a marker of DNA damage. Expression of CYP3A4 also conferred sensitivity in rad4 rad51 mutants exposed to colon carcinogen, 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx). These data confirm the ability of human CYP3A4 to mediate the genotoxicity of AFB1, and illustrate the usefulness of the CYP3A4-expressing, DNA-repair mutant yeast strain for screening other chemical compounds that are CYP3A4 substrates, for potential genotoxicity. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 58:217–227, 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2017


  • CYP3A4
  • DNA damage
  • aflatoxin B1
  • budding yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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