How is acetylcholinesterase phosphonylated by soman? An ab initio QM/MM molecular dynamics study.
ABSTRACT: Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is a crucial enzyme in the cholinergic nerve system that hydrolyzes acetylcholine (ACh) and terminates synaptic signals by reducing the effective concentration of ACh in the synaptic clefts. Organophosphate compounds irreversibly inhibit AChEs, leading to irreparable damage to nerve cells. By employing Born-Oppenheimer ab initio QM/MM molecular dynamics simulations with umbrella sampling, a state-of-the-art approach to simulate enzyme reactions, we have characterized the covalent inhibition mechanism between AChE and the nerve toxin soman and determined its free energy profile for the first time. Our results indicate that phosphonylation of the catalytic serine by soman employs an addition-elimination mechanism, which is highly associative and stepwise: in the initial addition step, which is also rate-limiting, His440 acts as a general base to facilitate the nucleophilic attack of Ser200 on the soman's phosphorus atom to form a trigonal bipyrimidal pentacovalent intermediate; in the subsequent elimination step, Try121 of the catalytic gorge stabilizes the leaving fluorine atom prior to its dissociation from the active site. Together with our previous characterization of the aging mechanism of soman inhibited AChE, our simulations have revealed detailed molecular mechanistic insights into the damaging function of the nerve agent soman.
Project description:Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is a crucial enzyme in the cholinergic nervous system that hydrolyzes neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) and terminates synaptic signals. The catalytic serine of AChE can be phosphonylated by soman, one of the most potent nerve agents, and subsequently undergo an aging reaction. This phosphonylation and aging process leads to irreversible AChE inhibition, results in accumulation of excess ACh at the synaptic clefts, and causes neuromuscular paralysis. By employing Born-Oppenheimer ab initio QM/MM molecular dynamics simulations with umbrella sampling, a state-of-the-art approach to simulate enzyme reactions, we have characterized the aging mechanism of soman phosphonylated AChE and determined its free energy profile. This aging reaction starts with the scission of the O2-C? bond, which is followed by methyl migration, and results in a tertiary carbenium intermediate. At the transition state, the scissile O2-C? bond is already cleaved with an average O-C distance of 3.2 ± 0.3 Å and the migrating methyl group is shared between C? and C? carbons with C-C distances of 1.9 ± 0.1 and 1.8 ± 0.1 Å, respectively. The negatively charged phosphonate group is stabilized by a salt bridge with the imidazole ring of the catalytic histidine. A major product of aging, 2,3-dimethyl-2-butanol can be formed swiftly by the reaction of a water molecule. Our characterized mechanism and simulation results provide new detailed insights into this important biochemical process.
Project description:Organophosphorus (OP) nerve agents are deadly chemical weapons that pose an alarming threat to military and civilian populations. The irreversible inhibition of the critical cholinergic degradative enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) by OP nerve agents leads to cholinergic crisis. Resulting excessive synaptic acetylcholine levels leads to status epilepticus that, in turn, results in brain damage. Current countermeasures are only modestly effective in protecting against OP-induced brain damage, supporting interest for evaluation of new ones. (-)-Phenserine is a reversible AChE inhibitor possessing neuroprotective and amyloid precursor protein lowering actions that reached Phase III clinical trials for Alzheimer's Disease where it exhibited a wide safety margin. This compound preferentially enters the CNS and has potential to impede soman binding to the active site of AChE to, thereby, serve in a protective capacity. Herein, we demonstrate that (-)-phenserine protects neurons against soman-induced neuronal cell death in rats when administered either as a pretreatment or post-treatment paradigm, improves motoric movement in soman-exposed animals and reduces mortality when given as a pretreatment. Gene expression analysis, undertaken to elucidate mechanism, showed that (-)-phenserine pretreatment increased select neuroprotective genes and reversed a Homer1 expression elevation induced by soman exposure. These studies suggest that (-)-phenserine warrants further evaluation as an OP nerve agent protective strategy.
Project description:Exposure to the nerve agent soman is difficult to treat due to the rapid dealkylation of the soman-acetylcholinesterase (AChE) conjugate known as aging. Oxime antidotes commonly used to reactivate organophosphate inhibited AChE are ineffective against soman, while the efficacy of the recommended nerve agent bioscavenger butyrylcholinesterase is limited by strictly stoichiometric scavenging. To overcome this limitation, we tested ex vivo, in human blood, and in vivo, in soman exposed mice, the capacity of aging-resistant human AChE mutant Y337A/F338A in combination with oxime HI-6 to act as a catalytic bioscavenger of soman. HI-6 was previously shown in vitro to efficiently reactivate this mutant upon soman, as well as VX, cyclosarin, sarin, and paraoxon, inhibition. We here demonstrate that ex vivo, in whole human blood, 1 ?M soman was detoxified within 30 min when supplemented with 0.5 ?M Y337A/F338A AChE and 100 ?M HI-6. This combination was further tested in vivo. Catalytic scavenging of soman in mice improved the therapeutic outcome and resulted in the delayed onset of toxicity symptoms. Furthermore, in a preliminary in vitro screen we identified an even more efficacious oxime than HI-6, in a series of 42 pyridinium aldoximes, and 5 imidazole 2-aldoxime N-propylpyridinium derivatives. One of the later imidazole aldoximes, RS-170B, was a 2-3-fold more effective reactivator of Y337A/F338A AChE than HI-6 due to the smaller imidazole ring, as indicated by computational molecular models, that affords a more productive angle of nucleophilic attack.
Project description:Toxicity from acute exposure to nerve agents and organophosphorus toxicants is due to irreversible inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in the nervous system. AChE in red blood cells is a surrogate for AChE in the nervous system. Previously we developed an immunopurification method to enrich red blood cell AChE (RBC AChE) as a biomarker of exposure. The goal of the present work was to provide an alternative RBC AChE enrichment strategy, by binding RBC AChE to Hupresin affinity gel. AChE was solubilized from frozen RBC by addition of 1% Triton X-100. Insoluble debris was removed by centrifugation. The red, but not viscous, RBC AChE solution was loaded on a Hupresin affinity column. Hemoglobin and other proteins were washed off with 3 M NaCl, while retaining AChE bound to Hupresin. Denatured AChE was eluted with 1% trifluoroacetic acid. The same protocol was used for 20 mL of RBC AChE inhibited with a soman model compound. The acid denatured protein was digested with pepsin and analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry on a 6600 Triple-TOF mass spectrometer. A targeted method identified the aged soman adduct on serine 203 in peptide FGESAGAAS. It was concluded that Hupresin can be used to enrich soman-inhibited AChE solubilized from 8 mL of frozen human erythrocytes, yielding a quantity sufficient for detecting soman exposure.
Project description:Irreversible inactivation of human acetylcholinesterase (hAChE) by organophosphorous pesticides (OPs) and chemical weapon agents (CWA) has severe morbidity and mortality consequences. We present data from quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) and 80 classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the apo and soman-adducted forms of hAChE to investigate the effects on the dynamics and protein structure when the catalytic Serine 203 is phosphonylated. We find that the soman phosphonylation of the active site Ser203 follows a water assisted addition-elimination mechanism with the elimination of the fluoride ion being the highest energy barrier at 6.5 kcal/mole. We observe soman-dependent changes in backbone and sidechain motions compared to the apo form of the protein. These alterations restrict the soman-adducted hAChE to a structural state that is primed for the soman adduct to be cleaved and removed from the active site. The altered motions and resulting structures provide alternative pathways into and out of the hAChE active site. In the soman-adducted protein both side and back door pathways are viable for soman adduct access. Correlation analysis of the apo and soman adducted MD trajectories shows that the correlation of gorge entrance and back door motion is disrupted when hAChE is adducted. This supports the hypothesis that substrate and product can use two different pathways as entry and exit sites in the apo form of the protein. These alternative pathways have important implications for the rational design of medical countermeasures.
Project description:Insecticide and nerve agent organophosphorus (OP) compounds are potent inhibitors of the serine hydrolase superfamily of enzymes. Nerve agents, such as sarin, soman, tabun, and VX exert their toxicity by inhibiting human acetycholinesterase at nerve synapses. Following the initial phosphonylation of the active site serine, the enzyme may reactivate spontaneously or through reaction with an appropriate nucleophilic oxime. Alternatively, the enzyme-nerve agent complex can undergo a secondary process, called "aging", which dealkylates the nerve agent adduct and results in a product that is highly resistant to reactivation by any known means. Here we report the structures of paraoxon, soman, and sarin complexes of group-VIII phospholipase A2 from bovine brain. In each case, the crystal structures indicate a nonaged adduct; a stereoselective preference for binding of the P(S)C(S) isomer of soman and the P(S) isomer of sarin was also noted. The stability of the nonaged complexes was corroborated by trypsin digest and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, which indicates nonaged complexes are formed with diisopropylfluorophosphate, soman, and sarin. The P(S) stereoselectivity for reaction with sarin was confirmed by reaction of racemic sarin, followed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry using a chiral column to separate and quantitate each stereoisomer. The P(S) stereoisomers of soman and sarin are known to be the more toxic stereoisomers, as they react preferentially to inhibit human acetylcholinesterase. The results obtained for nonaged complexes of group-VIII phospholipase A2 are compared to those obtained for other serine hydrolases and discussed to partly explain determinants of OP aging. Furthermore, structural insights can now be exploited to engineer variant versions of this enzyme with enhanced nerve agent binding and hydrolysis functions.
Project description:Organophosphorus compounds (OPs) such as sarin and soman are some of the most toxic chemicals synthesized by man. They exert toxic effects by inactivating acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and bind secondary target protein. Organophosphorus compounds are hemi-substrates for enzymes of the serine hydrolase superfamily. Enzymes can be engineered by amino acid substitution into OP-hydrolyzing variants (bioscavengers) and used as therapeutics. Some enzymes associated with lipoproteins, such as human plasma platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase (pPAF-AH), are also inhibited by OPs; these proteins have largely been ignored for engineering purposes because of complex interfacial kinetics and a lack of structural data. We have expressed active human pPAF-AH in bacteria and previously solved the crystal structure of this enzyme with OP adducts. Using these structures as a guide, we created histidine mutations near the active site of pPAF-AH (F322H, W298H, L153H) in an attempt to generate novel OP-hydrolase activity. Wild-type pPAF-AH, L153H, and F322H have essentially no hydrolytic activity against the nerve agents tested. In contrast, the W298H mutant displayed novel somanase activity with a kcat of 5min(-1) and a KM of 590?M at pH7.5. There was no selective preference for hydrolysis of any of the four soman stereoisomers.
Project description:The goal was to test 14 nerve agent model compounds of soman, sarin, tabun, and cyclohexyl methylphosphonofluoridate (GF) for their suitability as substitutes for true nerve agents. We wanted to know whether the model compounds would form the identical covalent adduct with human butyrylcholinesterase that is produced by reaction with true nerve agents. Nerve agent model compounds containing thiocholine or thiomethyl in place of fluorine or cyanide were synthesized as Sp and Rp stereoisomers. Purified human butyrylcholinesterase was treated with a 45-fold molar excess of nerve agent analogue at pH 7.4 for 17 h at 21 degrees C. The protein was denatured by boiling and was digested with trypsin. Aged and nonaged active site peptide adducts were quantified by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry of the tryptic digest mixture. The active site peptides were isolated by HPLC and analyzed by MALDI-TOF-TOF mass spectrometry. Serine 198 of butyrylcholinesterase was covalently modified by all 14 compounds. Thiocholine was the leaving group in all compounds that had thiocholine in place of fluorine or cyanide. Thiomethyl was the leaving group in the GF thiomethyl compounds. However, sarin thiomethyl compounds released either thiomethyl or isopropyl, while soman thiomethyl compounds released either thiomethyl or pinacolyl. Thiocholine compounds reacted more rapidly with butyrylcholinesterase than thiomethyl compounds. Labeling with the model compounds resulted in aged adducts that had lost the O-alkyl group (O-ethyl for tabun, O-cyclohexyl for GF, isopropyl for sarin, and pinacolyl for soman) in addition to the thiocholine or thiomethyl group. The nerve agent model compounds containing thiocholine and the GF thiomethyl analogue were found to be suitable substitutes for true soman, sarin, tabun, and GF in terms of the adduct that they produced with human butyrylcholinesterase. However, the soman and sarin thiomethyl compounds yielded two types of adducts, one of which was thiomethyl phosphonate, a modification not found after treatment with authentic soman and sarin.
Project description:Oximes are commonly used nucleophilic reactivators of alkyl phosphorylated and alkyl methylphosphonylated acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase. Covalent inhibition of these enzymes by organophosphate (OP) pesticides results typically in phosphorylated enzymes, while covalent inhibition by nerve agent OPs results in methyl phosphonylated cholinesterases. In this study we determined kinetic constants for interaction of three triazole containing oximes with native human AChE, enzyme diethylphosphorylated by paraoxon, enzyme phosphonylated by VX and cyclosarin as well as enzyme aged upon phosphonylation by soman. Stopped-flow kinetics of oxime interaction was monitored using quenching of intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence of AChE as an indicator of oxime binding. Triazole oximes were efficiently synthesized using copper catalyzed cycloaddition between azide and alkyne building blocks ("Click chemistry"). Equilibrium dissociation constants determined for both native enzymes were in low micromolar range for all three oximes, while dissociation constants for phosphylated (phosphorylated and phosphonylated) enzymes were typically one to two orders of magnitude larger. Dissociation constants for interaction with aged enzymes were similar or smaller than those determined for native enzymes. Similar results were obtained with reference oximes, 2PAM and HI6. Association rate constants for formation of oxime complexes were similar for both native, phosphylated and aged enzymes. In summary our data suggest that modification of active site gorge in AChEs by phosphylation of the active serine compromises oxime binding. Dealkylation of phosphonylated enzyme, however opens space in the gorge allowing oximes to bind tighter.
Project description:Nerve agents and organophosphorus pesticides make a covalent bond with the active site serine of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), resulting in inhibition of AChE activity and toxic symptoms. AChE in red blood cells (RBCs) serves as a surrogate for AChE in the nervous system. Mass spectrometry analysis of adducts on RBC AChE could provide evidence of exposure. Our goal was to develop a method of immunopurifying human RBC AChE in quantities adequate for detecting exposure by mass spectrometry. For this purpose, we immobilized 3 commercially available anti-human acetylcholinesterase monoclonal antibodies (AE-1, AE-2, and HR2) plus 3 new monoclonal antibodies. The monoclonal antibodies were characterized for binding affinity, epitope mapping by pairing analysis, and nucleotide and amino acid sequences. AChE was solubilized from frozen RBCs with 1% (v/v) Triton X-100. A 16 mL sample containing 5.8 ?g of RBC AChE was treated with a quantity of soman model compound that inhibited 50% of the AChE activity. Native and soman-inhibited RBC AChE samples were immunopurified on antibody-Sepharose beads. The immunopurified RBC AChE was digested with pepsin and analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry on a 6600 Triple-TOF mass spectrometer. The aged soman-modified PheGlyGluSerAlaGlyAlaAlaSer (FGESAGAAS) peptide was detected using a targeted analysis method. It was concluded that all 6 monoclonal antibodies could be used to immunopurify RBC AChE and that exposure to nerve agents could be detected as adducts on the active site serine of RBC AChE.