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Biochemistry. 2000 May 16;39(19):5750-7.

Mechanism of oxime reactivation of acetylcholinesterase analyzed by chirality and mutagenesis.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0636, USA.


Organophosphates inactivate acetylcholinesterase by reacting covalently with the active center serine. We have examined the reactivation of a series of resolved enantiomeric methylphosphonate conjugates of acetylcholinesterase by two oximes, 2-pralidoxime (2-PAM) and 1-(2'-hydroxyiminomethyl-1'-pyridinium)-3-(4'-carbamoyl-1-pyridinium) (HI-6). The S(p) enantiomers of the methylphosphonate esters are far more reactive in forming the conjugate with the enzyme, and we find that rates of oxime reactivation also show an S(p) versus R(p) preference, suggesting that a similar orientation of the phosphonyl oxygen toward the oxyanion hole is required for both efficient inactivation and reactivation. A comparison of reactivation rates of (S(p))- and (R(p))-cycloheptyl, 3,3-dimethylbutyl, and isopropyl methylphosphonyl conjugates shows that steric hindrance by the alkoxy group precludes facile access of the oxime to the tetrahedral phosphorus. To facilitate access, we substituted smaller side chains in the acyl pocket of the active center and find that the Phe295Leu substitution enhances the HI-6-elicited reactivation rates of the S(p) conjugates up to 14-fold, whereas the Phe297Ile substitution preferentially enhances 2-PAM reactivation by as much as 125-fold. The fractional enhancement of reactivation achieved by these mutations of the acyl pocket is greatest for the conjugated phosphonates of the largest steric bulk. By contrast, little enhancement of the reactivation rate is seen with these mutants for the R(p) conjugates, where limitations on oxime access to the phosphonate and suboptimal positioning of the phosphonyl oxygen in the oxyanion hole may both slow reactivation. These findings suggest that impaction of the conjugated organophosphate within the constraints of the active center gorge is a major factor in influencing oxime access and reactivation rates. Moreover, the individual oximes differ in attacking orientation, leading to the presumed pentavalent transition state. Hence, their efficacies as reactivating agents depend on the steric bulk of the intervening groups surrounding the tetrahedral phosphorus.

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