Activation of nitrofurazone by azoreductases: Multiple activities in one enzyme

Ali Ryan, Elise Kaplan, Nicola Laurieri, Edward Lowe, Edith Sim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Azoreductases are well known for azo pro-drug activation by gut flora. We show that azoreductases have a wider role in drug metabolism than previously thought as they can also reduce and hence activate nitrofurazone. Nitrofurazone, a nitroaromatic drug, is a broad spectrum antibiotic which has until now been considered as activated in bacteria by nitroreductases. The structure of the azoreductase with nitrofurazone bound was solved at 2.08 Å and shows nitrofurazone in an active conformation. Based on the structural information, the kinetics and stoichiometry of nitrofurazone reduction by azoreductase from P. aeruginosa, we propose a mechanism of activation which accounts for the ability of azoreductases to reduce both azo and nitroaromatic drugs. This mode of activation can explain the cytotoxic side-effects of nitrofurazone through human azoreductase homologues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number63
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


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