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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2001 Nov;299(2):468-76.

Functional characterization of cyclooxygenase-2 polymorphisms.

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Laboratory of Computational Biology and Risk Analysis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Cyclooxygenases (COX)-1 and -2 are the key enzymes in the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins. COX-2 appears to play an emerging role in inflammation and carcinogenesis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used for the treatment of numerous diseases and reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Polymorphisms in the COX-2 gene could alter enzyme expression, function, and/or the response to NSAIDs. Therefore, they could modify individual risks for developing cancer and other diseases or the occurrence of side effects or sensitivity toward selective or nonselective COX inhibitors. We sequenced the COX-2 gene of 72 individuals and identified rare polymorphisms in the promoter and the coding region. A COX-2 molecular model was used to locate the coding region polymorphisms relative to functional sites in the protein, and the COX-2 V511A polymorphism was very near to the active site. This variant protein was expressed, and function was evaluated, but no difference was detected in metabolism of the COX-2 substrates, arachidonic acid, linoleic acid, and 2-arachidonyl glycerol, compared with the wild type. The Km values for arachidonic acid showed no differences between the COX-2 wild type and V511A mutant. Inhibition with selective or nonselective COX inhibitors was essentially the same for the two enzymes. The absence of functionally important polymorphisms in the COX-2 gene may suggest that there has been selective pressure against those single nucleotide polymorphisms because of the critical role of this enzyme in maintenance of homeostasis.

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