The acetylcholine hydrolysing cholinesterases control the termination of cholinergic signalling in multiple tissues and are targets for a variety of drugs, natural and man-made poisons and common insecticides. Molecular cloning and gene mapping studies revealed the primary structure of human acetyl- and butyrylcholinesterase and localized the corresponding ACHE and BCHE genes to the chromosomal positions 3q26-ter and 7q22, respectively. Several different point mutations in the coding region of BCHE were found to be particularly abundant in the Israeli population. Analytical expression studies in microinjected Xenopus oocytes have demonstrated that the biochemical properties of cholinesterases may be modified by rationalized site-directed mutagenesis and in chimeric ACHE/BCHE constructs. These properties are differently altered in the various allelic BCHE variants, conferring resistance to several anti-cholinesterases, which may explain the evolutionary emergence of these multiple alleles. At the clinical level, abnormal expression of both ACHE and BCHE and the in vivo amplification of the ACHE and BCHE genes has been variously associated with abnormal megakaryocytopoiesis, leukemias and brain and ovarian tumors. Moreover, antisense oligonucleotides blocking the expression of these genes were shown to interfere with hemocytopoiesis in culture, implicating these genes in cholinergic influence on cell growth and proliferation.
Mutations and impaired expression in the ACHE and BCHE genes: neurological implications
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