Unexpected genetic and structural relationships of a long-forgotten flavoenzyme to NAD(P)H:quinone reductase (DT-diaphorase)

Qinjian Zhao, Xiao Ling Yang, W. David Holtzclaw, Paul Talalay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


A mammalian cytosolic FAD-dependent enzyme that catalyzes the reduction of quinones by N-ribosyl- and N-alkyldihydronicotinamides, but not by NADH, NADPH, or NMNH (reduced nicotinamide mononucleotide), was isolated from bovine kidney more than 30 years ago [S. Liao, J. T. Dulaney and H. G. Williams-Ashman (1962) J. Biol. Chem. 237, 2981-2987]. This enzyme is designated here as quinone reductase type 2 (QR2). Bovine QR2 is a homodimer that migrates on SDS/PAGE at ≃22 kDa. Three tryptic peptides of bovine QR2 (representing 39 amino acids) showed 43% identity to human NAD(P)H:quinone reductase (DT-diaphorase; EC, here designated QR1 and 82% identity to a related human cDNA clone [called hNQO2 by A. K. Jaiswal, P. Burnett, M. Adesnik and O. W. McBride (1990) Biochemistry 29, 1899-1906], and designated here as hQR2. The protein encoded by the latter cDNA did not show QR activity when tested with conventional nicotinamide nucleotides. The unexpected high homology between the old flavoenzyme and hQR2 prompted us to clone and overexpress hQR2. The properties of hQR2 were identical to those of the flavoenzyme described by S. Liao and H. G. Williams-Ashman, thus establishing their genetic identity. Recombinant human QR2: (i) reacts with N-ribosyl- and N-alkyldihydronicotinamides, but not with NADH, NADPH, or NMNH; (ii) is very weakly inhibited by dicumarol or Cibacron blue; (iii) is very potently inhibited by benzo[a]pyrene. The x-ray crystal structure of rat QR1 shows that the 43 amino acid C-terminal tail of QR1 provides the binding site for the hydrophilic portions of NADH and NADPH. In the absence of this binding site in QR2, the enzyme retains the essential catalytic machinery, including affinity for FAD, but cannot bind phosphorylated hydride donors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1669-1674
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 4 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • flavoprotein
  • hydride transfer
  • nonphosphorylated dihydronicotinamides
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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