The gene encodes a member of the cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes. These proteins are monooxygenases that catalyze many reactions involved in drug metabolism and synthesis of cholesterol, steroids and other lipids. This protein localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum and is known to metabolize many drugs. Polymorphism within this gene is associated with variable ability to metabolize mephenytoin, known as the poor metabolizer and extensive metabolizer phenotypes. The gene is located within a cluster of cytochrome P450 genes on chromosome no.10 arm q24.
Genetic polymorphism (mainly CYP2C19*2, CYP2C19*3 and CYP2C19*17) exists for CYP2C19 expression, with approximately 3–5% of Caucasian and 15–20% of Asian populations being poor metabolizers with no CYP2C19 function. This may reduce the efficacy of clopidogrel (Plavix). In patients with an abnormal CYP2C19 variant certain benzodiazepines should be avoided, such as diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam (Serax), and temazepam (Restoril). On the basis of their ability to metabolize (S)-mephenytoin or other CYP2C19 substrates, individuals can be classified as extensive metabolizers (EM) or poor metabolizers (PM). Eight variant alleles (CYP2C19*2 to CYP2C19*8) that predict PMs have been identified.
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