Structure-function relationship studies in human cholinesterases reveal genomic origins for individual variations in cholinergic drug responses

1. Due to their involvement in the termination of neurotransmission at cholinergic synapses and neuromuscular junctions, cholinesterases are the target proteins for numerous drugs of neuro-psychopharmacology importance. 2. In order to perform structure-function relationship studies on human cholinesterases with respect to such drugs, a set of expression vectors was engineered, all of which include cloned cDNA inserts encoding various forms of human acetyl- and butyrylcholinesterase. These vectors were designed to be transcribed in vitro into their corresponding mRNA products which, when microinjected into Xenopus oocytes, are efficiently translated to yield their catalytically active enzymes, each with its distinct substrate specificity and sensitivity to selective inhibitors. 3. A fully automated microtiter plate assay for evaluating the inhibition of said enzymes by tested cholinergic drugs and/or poisons has been developed, in conjunction with computerized data analysis, which offers prediction of such inhibition data on the authentic human enzymes and their natural or mutagenized variants. 4. Thus, it was found that asp70–>gly substitution renders butyrylcholinesterase succinylcholine insensitive and resistant to oxime reactivation while ser 425–>Pro with gly70 gives rise to the “atypical” butyrylcholinesterase phenotype, abolishing dibucaine binding. 5. Furthermore, differences in cholinesterase affinities to physostigmine, ecothiophate and bambuterol were shown in these natural variants. 6. Definition of key residues important for drug interactions may initiate rational design of more specific cholinesterase inhibitors, with fewer side effects. This, in turn, offers therapeutic potential in the treatment of clinical syndromes such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma and myasthenia gravis.

Authors: Loewenstein Y1, Gnatt A, Neville LF, Zakut H, Soreq H.
Year of publication: 1993
Journal: Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1993 Nov;17(6):905-26.

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