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Biochemistry. 1991 Oct 29;30(43):10551-7.

Mapping the polarity profiles of general anesthetic target sites using n-alkane-(alpha, omega)-diols.

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Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, London, U.K.


The effects of the homologous series of n-alkane-(alpha, omega)-diols have been studied on the inhibition of the purified firefly luciferase enzyme from Photinus pyralis, the inhibition of the purified bacterial luciferase enzyme from Vibrio harveyi, and the induction of general anesthesia in Xenopus laevis tadpoles. All but one of the diols tested were found to be reversible general anesthetics. The diols inhibited firefly luciferase by competing with its normal substrate firefly luciferin, and they inhibited bacterial luciferase by competing with the substrate n-decanal. For all but the smallest agent (1,4-butanediol), only a single diol molecule was found to be involved in the inhibition of the enzymes. Inhibition constants Ki were determined for the enzymes, and general anesthetic EC50 concentrations were determined for tadpoles. These data were then used in conjunction with previously determined n-alkane and n-alcohol data to calculate, as a function of chain length, the incremental standard Gibbs free energies delta (delta G0) for adding apolar -CH2- groups and for converting apolar terminal -CH3 groups to polar -CH2OH groups. The resulting plots of delta (delta G0) versus chain length gave a consistent mapping of the polarity profiles of the anesthetic-binding pockets. They clearly reveal the existence of two substantial and distinct polar regions in the anesthetic-binding pocket of firefly luciferase but only one such region for bacterial luciferase and for the unknown target sites underlying general anesthesia. The polarities and geometric properties of these different binding sites for straight-chain anesthetics are discussed in terms of simple models.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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