Elizabeth Schneider.

Graduate Student
University of California, Berkeley

Joint Ph.D. Bioengineering, 2011
University of California, Berkeley and UCSF

B.S. Chemical Engineering, 2005
University of Arizona

Office Location: 473A Tan Hall
Office Telephone: 510-643-8340
Office Fax: 510-643-1228

Development of a P450 biosensor

Cytochrome P450s (CYPs) are heme containing monooxygenase enzymes implicated in the metabolism of drugs and environmental toxins in the body. Drug clearance is affected by P450 activity, as CYPs catalyze the hydroxylation and N, S, and O-demethylation of lipophilic molecules, allowing for rapid excretion from the bloodstream to the urine. Consequently, P450 reactions are of high interest to the pharmaceutical industry, where lead compounds in drug development are screened as potential substrates of CYPs. Knowing the complete substrate profile of a candidate drug allows for the prediction of harmful drug-drug interactions, which are often caused by the interference of P450 metabolism via inhibition or induction of a specific P450 isozyme. In addition to the pharmaceutical industry, interest in CYPs has increased in the chemical and biotechnology industries, as P450s have the potential to catalyze reactions that are difficult with organic chemistry. The ability of P450s to hydroxylate environmental toxins and especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons also makes them attractive enzymes for bioremediation. Currently, any laboratory or industrial use of CYPs is limited by the need for NADPH as the electron donor in the catalytic reaction cycle. NADPH is expensive and must be continuously supplied or recycled in CYP reactions.

By removing NADPH as the native electron donor in the P450 reaction, an increase in the current upon application of a potential can be correlated to catalytic activity of the enzyme against a candidate substrate. Using this methodology, I am developing a novel amperometric biosensor of immobilized mammalian P450 enzymes to screen drugs and/or environmental toxins as substrates in CYP reactions. Such a device would be useful in the pharmaceutical industry as a tool for initial screens of drug candidates for P450 metabolism and potential drug-drug interactions. It could also be used in a clinical setting to test for harmful interactions among specific combinations of drugs prescribed to individual patients. Furthermore, the bioremediation potential of P450s can be evaluated by screening environmental toxins and pollutants for activity using such a biosensor.

Personal Info

Favorite Books: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Nieffenegger, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Favorite TV Shows: House, Kitchen Nightmares, America’s Next Top Model

Favorite Pastimes: Hiking, reading, cooking, Hindi

Favorite Quote:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

--Dwight D. Eisenhower