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J Biol Chem. 2016 Feb 19;291(8):4069-78. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.698001. Epub 2015 Dec 23.

Different Fatty Acids Compete with Arachidonic Acid for Binding to the Allosteric or Catalytic Subunits of Cyclooxygenases to Regulate Prostanoid Synthesis.

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From the Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109.
From the Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109


Prostaglandin endoperoxide H synthases (PGHSs), also called cyclooxygenases (COXs), convert arachidonic acid (AA) to PGH2. PGHS-1 and PGHS-2 are conformational heterodimers, each composed of an (Eallo) and a catalytic (Ecat) monomer. Previous studies suggested that the binding to Eallo of saturated or monounsaturated fatty acids (FAs) that are not COX substrates differentially regulate PGHS-1 versus PGHS-2. Here, we substantiate and expand this concept to include polyunsaturated FAs known to modulate COX activities. Non-substrate FAs like palmitic acid bind Eallo of PGHSs stimulating human (hu) PGHS-2 but inhibiting huPGHS-1. We find the maximal effects of non-substrate FAs on both huPGHSs occurring at the same physiologically relevant FA/AA ratio of ∼20. This inverse allosteric regulation likely underlies the ability of PGHS-2 to operate at low AA concentrations, when PGHS-1 is effectively latent. Unlike FAs tested previously, we observe that C-22 FAs, including ω-3 fish oil FAs, have higher affinities for Ecat than Eallo subunits of PGHSs. Curiously, C-20 ω-3 eicosapentaenoate preferentially binds Ecat of huPGHS-1 but Eallo of huPGHS-2. PGE2 production decreases 50% when fish oil consumption produces tissue EPA/AA ratios of ≥0.2. However, 50% inhibition of huPGHS-1 itself is only seen with ω-3 FA/AA ratios of ≥5.0. This suggests that fish oil-enriched diets disfavor AA oxygenation by altering the composition of the FA pool in which PGHS-1 functions. The distinctive binding specificities of PGHS subunits permit different combinations of non-esterified FAs, which can be manipulated dietarily, to regulate AA binding to Eallo and/or Ecat thereby controlling COX activities.


allosteric regulation; cyclooxygenase (COX); docosahexaenoic acid; eicosanoid; eicosapentaenoic acid; fatty acid; half-sites; palmitic acid; prostaglandin; ω-3 fatty acid

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