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Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2012 Jul;22(7):525-37. doi: 10.1097/FPC.0b013e32835366f6.

Decreased cyclooxygenase inhibition by aspirin in polymorphic variants of human prostaglandin H synthase-1.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA.



Aspirin (ASA), a major antiplatelet and cancer-preventing drug, irreversibly blocks the cyclooxygenase (COX) activity of prostaglandin H synthase-1 (PGHS-1). Considerable differences in ASA effectiveness are observed between individuals, and some of this variability may be due to PGHS-1 protein variants. Our overall aim is to determine which, if any, of the known variants in the mature PGHS-1 protein lead to functional alterations in COX catalysis or inhibition by ASA. The present study targeted four PGHS-1 variants: R53H, R108Q, L237M, and V481I.


Wild-type human PGHS-1 and the four polymorphic variants were expressed as histidine-tagged, homodimeric proteins in insect cells using baculovirus vectors, solubilized with a detergent, and purified by affinity chromatography. The purified proteins were characterized in vitro to evaluate COX and peroxidase (POX) catalytic parameters and the kinetics of COX inhibition by ASA and NS-398.


Compared with the wild type, several variants showed a higher COX/POX ratio (up to 1.5-fold, for R108Q), an elevated arachidonate Km (up to 1.9-fold, for R108Q), and/or a lower ASA reactivity (up to 60% less, for R108Q). The decreased ASA reactivity in R108Q reflected both a 70% increase in the Ki for ASA and a 30% decrease in the rate constant for acetyl group transfer to the protein. Computational modeling of the brief ASA pulses experienced by PGHS-1 in circulating platelets during daily ASA dosing predicted that the 60% lower ASA reactivity in R108Q yields a 15-fold increase in surviving COX activity; smaller, approximately two-fold increases in surviving COX activity were predicted for L237M and V481I. NS-398 competitively inhibited COX catalysis of the wild type (Ki=6 µmol/l) and inhibited COX inactivation by 1.0 mmol/l ASA in both the wild type (IC50=0.8 µmol/l) and R108Q (IC50=2.1 µmol/l).


Of the four PGHS-1 variants examined, R108Q exerts the largest functional effects, with evidence for impaired interactions with a COX substrate and inhibitors. As Arg108 is located on the protein surface and not in the active site, the effects of R108Q suggest a novel, unsuspected mechanism for the modulation of the PGHS-1 active site structure. The lower intrinsic ASA reactivity of R108Q, V481I, and L237M, combined with the rapid hydrolysis of ASA in the blood, suggests that these variants decrease the antiplatelet effectiveness of the drug. These PGHS-1 variants are uncommon but ASA is used widely; hence, a considerable number of individuals could be affected. Further examination of these and other PGHS-1 variants will be needed to determine whether PGHS-1 genotyping can be used to personalize anti-COX therapy.

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