||Previously human cytochrome P450 3A4 was efficiently and specifically photolabeled by the photoaffinity ligand lapachenole. One of the modification sites was identified as cysteine 98 in the B-C loop region of the protein [B. Wen, C.E. Doneanu, C.A. Gartner, A.G. Roberts, W.M. Atkins, S.D. Nelson, Biochemistry 44 (2005) 1833-1845]. Loss of CO binding capacity and subsequent decrease of catalytic activity were observed in the labeled CYP3A4, which suggested that aromatic substitution on residue 98 triggered a critical conformational change and subsequent loss of enzyme activity. To test this hypothesis, C98A, C98S, C98F, and C98W mutants were generated by site-directed mutagenesis and expressed functionally as oligohistidine-tagged proteins. Unlike the mono-adduction observed in the wild-type protein, simultaneous multiple adductions occurred when C98F and C98W were photolabeled under the same conditions as the wild-type enzyme, indicating a substantial conformational change in these two mutants compared with the wild-type protein. Kinetic analysis revealed that the C98W mutant had a drastic 16-fold decrease in catalytic efficiency (V(max)/K(m)) for 1'-OH midazolam formation, and about an 8-fold decrease in catalytic efficiency (V(max)/K(m)) for 4-OH midazolam formation, while the C98A and C98S mutants retained the same enzyme activity as the wild-type enzyme. Photolabeling of C98A and C98S with lapachenole resulted in monoadduction of only Cys-468, in contrast to the labeling of Cys-98 in wild-type CYP3A4, demonstrating the marked selectivity of this photoaffinity ligand for cysteine residues. The slight increases in the midazolam binding constants (K(s)) in these mutants suggested negligible perturbation of the heme environment. Further activity studies using different P450:reductase ratios suggested that the affinity of P450 to reductase was significantly decreased in the C98W mutant, but not in the C98A and C98S mutants. In addition, the C98W mutant exhibited a 41% decrease in the maximum electron flow rate between P450 and reductase as measured by reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate consumption at a saturating reductase concentration. In conclusion, our data strongly suggest that cysteine 98 in the B-C loop region significantly contributes to conformational integrity and catalytic activity of CYP3A4, and that this residue or residues nearby might be involved in an interaction with P450 reductase.