Scientific disciplines such as medicinal- and environmental chemistry, pharmacology, and toxicology deal with the questions related to the effects small organic compounds exhort on biological targets and the compounds' physicochemical properties responsible for these effects. A common strategy in this endeavor is to establish structure-activity relationships (SARs). The aim of this work was to illustrate benefits of performing a statistical molecular design (SMD) and proper statistical analysis of the molecules' properties before SAR and quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis. Our SMD followed by synthesis yielded a set of inhibitors of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) that had very few inherent dependencies between the substructures in the molecules. If such dependencies exist, they cause severe errors in SAR interpretation and predictions by QSAR-models, and leave a set of molecules less suitable for future decision-making. In our study, SAR- and QSAR models could show which molecular sub-structures and physicochemical features that were advantageous for the AChE inhibition. Finally, the QSAR model was used for the prediction of the inhibition of AChE by an external prediction set of molecules. The accuracy of these predictions was asserted by statistical significance tests and by comparisons to simple but relevant reference models.
The molecular interactions between the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and two compound classes consisting of N-[2-(diethylamino)ethyl]benzenesulfonamides and N-[2-(diethylamino)ethyl]benzenemethanesulfonamides have been investigated using organic synthesis, enzymatic assays, X-ray crystallography, and thermodynamic profiling. The inhibitors aromatic properties were varied to establish structure-activity relationships (SAR) between the inhibitors and the peripheral anionic site (PAS) of AChE. The two structurally similar compound classes proved to have distinctly divergent SARs in terms of their inhibition capacity of AChE. Eight X-ray structures revealed that the two sets have different conformations in PAS. Furthermore, thermodynamic profiles of the binding between compounds and AChE revealed class-dependent differences of the entropy/enthalpy contributions to the free energy of binding. Further development of the entropy-favored compound class resulted in the synthesis of the most potent inhibitor and an extension beyond the established SARs. The divergent SARs will be utilized to develop reversible inhibitors of AChE into reactivators of nerve agent-inhibited AChE.
Conventional insecticides targeting acetylcholinesterase (AChE) typically show high mammalian toxicities and because there is resistance to these compounds in many insect species, alternatives to established AChE inhibitors used for pest control are needed. Here we used a fluorescence method to monitor interactions between various AChE inhibitors and the AChE peripheral anionic site, which is a novel target for new insecticides acting on this enzyme. The assay uses thioflavin-T as a probe, which binds to the peripheral anionic site of AChE and yields an increase in fluorescent signal. Three types of AChE inhibitors were studied: catalytic site inhibitors (carbamate insecticides, edrophonium, and benzylpiperidine), peripheral site inhibitors (tubocurarine, ethidium bromide, and propidium iodide), and bivalent inhibitors (donepezil, BW284C51, and a series of bis(n)-tacrines). All were screened on murine AChE to compare and contrast changes of peripheral site conformation in the TFT assay with catalytic inhibition. All the inhibitors reduced thioflavin-T fluorescence in a concentration-dependent manner with potencies (IC50) ranging from 8 nM for bis(6)-tacrine to 159 ?M for benzylpiperidine. Potencies in the fluorescence assay were correlated well with their potencies for enzyme inhibition (R(2) = 0.884). Efficacies for reducing thioflavin-T fluorescence ranged from 23-36% for catalytic site inhibitors and tubocurarine to near 100% for ethidium bromide and propidium iodide. Maximal efficacies could be reconciled with known mechanisms of interaction of the inhibitors with AChE. When extended to pest species, we anticipate these findings will assist in the discovery and development of novel, selective bivalent insecticides acting on AChE.
Nerve agents such as tabun, cyclosarin and Russian VX inhibit the essential enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) by organophosphorylating the catalytic serine residue. Nucleophiles, such as oximes, are used as antidotes as they can reactivate and restore the function of the inhibited enzyme. The oxime HI-6 shows a notably low activity on tabun adducts but can effectively reactivate adducts of cyclosarin and Russian VX. To examine the structural basis for the pronounced substrate specificity of HI-6, we determined the binary crystal structures of Mus musculus AChE (mAChE) conjugated by cyclosarin and Russian VX and found a conformational mobility of the side chains of Phe338 and His447. The interaction between HI-6 and tabun-adducts of AChE were subsequently investigated using a combination of time resolved fluorescence spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography. Our findings show that HI-6 binds to tabun inhibited Homo sapiens AChE (hAChE) with an IC50 value of 300?M and suggest that the reactive nucleophilic moiety of HI-6 is excluded from the phosphorus atom of tabun. We propose that a conformational mobility of the side-chains of Phe338 and His447 is a common feature in nerve-agent adducts of AChE. We also suggest that the conformational mobility allow HI-6 to reactivate conjugates of cyclosarin and Russian VX while a reduced mobility in tabun conjugated AChE results in steric hindrance that prevents efficient reactivation.
Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is an essential enzyme that terminates cholinergic transmission by rapid hydrolysis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Compounds inhibiting this enzyme can be used (inter alia) to treat cholinergic deficiencies (e.g. in Alzheimers disease), but may also act as dangerous toxins (e.g. nerve agents such as sarin). Treatment of nerve agent poisoning involves use of antidotes, small molecules capable of reactivating AChE. We have screened a collection of organic molecules to assess their ability to inhibit the enzymatic activity of AChE, aiming to find lead compounds for further optimization leading to drugs with increased efficacy and/or decreased side effects. 124 inhibitors were discovered, with considerable chemical diversity regarding size, polarity, flexibility and charge distribution. An extensive structure determination campaign resulted in a set of crystal structures of protein-ligand complexes. Overall, the ligands have substantial interactions with the peripheral anionic site of AChE, and the majority form additional interactions with the catalytic site (CAS). Reproduction of the bioactive conformation of six of the ligands using molecular docking simulations required modification of the default parameter settings of the docking software. The results show that docking-assisted structure-based design of AChE inhibitors is challenging and requires crystallographic support to obtain reliable results, at least with currently available software. The complex formed between C5685 and Mus musculus AChE (C5685•mAChE) is a representative structure for the general binding mode of the determined structures. The CAS binding part of C5685 could not be structurally determined due to a disordered electron density map and the developed docking protocol was used to predict the binding modes of this part of the molecule. We believe that chemical modifications of our discovered inhibitors, biochemical and biophysical characterization, crystallography and computational chemistry provide a route to novel AChE inhibitors and reactivators.
The therapeutic approach of organophosphorus compound (OP) intoxications is to reactivate the inhibited enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Numerous studies demonstrated a limited efficacy of standard oxime-based reactivators against different nerve agents such as tabun and cyclosarin. This emphasizes research for more effective oximes. In the present study, reactivation kinetics of tabun-, sarin-, cyclosarin-, VX- or paraoxon-ethyl-inhibited human AChE (hAChE) with a homologous series of bis-ortho-pyridiniumaldoximes, Ortho-4 - Ortho-9, was investigated with a robot-assisted setting, allowing determination of second-order reactivation rate constants as well as model calculations. The reactivation constants of Ortho-4 - Ortho-9 resulted in marked differences of affinity and reactivity depending on the OP structure and the linker length of the oximes. In general, the K(D) values decreased with increasing linker length. Reactivity increased from Ortho-4 to Ortho-6 for PXE- and VX-inhibited hAChE and from Ortho-4 to Ortho-7 for GA-inhibited hAChE and decreased again with Ortho-8 and Ortho-9. In contrast, k(r) decreased with increasing linker length for sarin- and cyclosarin-inhibited hAChE. In view of the pronounced decrease of K(D) from Ortho-4 to Ortho-9, the k(r2) values increased with all tested OP. Hence, the ratios of K(I)/K(D) and of K(I)/k(r2) showed that in almost all cases the affinity of Ortho-N to the native hAChE was higher than to OP-inhibited enzyme. Model calculations indicated that Ortho-6 - Ortho-9 could be superior to obidoxime in reactivating tabun-inhibited hAChE. Finally, these data emphasize the need to develop oximes with a higher selective affinity towards OP-inhibited hAChE in order to minimize possible side effects.
Organophosphorus insecticides and nerve agents inhibit the vital enzyme acetylcholinesterase by covalently bonding to the catalytic serine residue of the enzyme. Oxime-based reactivators, such as [(E)-[1-[(4-carbamoylpyridin-1-ium-1-yl)methoxymethyl]pyridin-2-ylidene]methyl]-oxoazanium dichloride (HI-6) and 1,7-heptylene-bis-N,N-2-pyridiniumaldoxime dichloride (Ortho-7), restore the organophosphate-inhibited enzymatic activity by cleaving the phosphorous conjugate. In this article, we report the intermolecular interactions between Mus musculus acetylcholinesterase inhibited by the insecticide fenamiphos (fep-mAChE) and HI-6 or Ortho-7 revealed by a combination of crystallography and kinetics. The crystal structures of the two oxime-bound fep-mAChE complexes show that both oximes interact with the peripheral anionic site involving different conformations of Trp286 and different peripheral-site residues (Tyr124 for HI-6 and Tyr72 for Ortho-7). Moreover, residues at catalytic site of the HI-6-bound fep-mAChE complex adopt conformations that are similar to those in the apo mAChE, whereas significant conformational changes are observed for the corresponding residues in the Ortho-7-bound fep-mAChE complex. Interestingly, flipping of the His447 imidazole ring allows the formation of a hydrogen bonding network among the Glu334-His447-Ortho-7 triad, which presumably deprotonates the Ortho-7 oxime hydroxyl group, increases the nucleophilicity of the oxime group, and leads to cleavage of the phosphorous conjugate. These results offer insights into a detailed reactivation mechanism for the oximes and development of improved reactivators.
New insecticides are urgently needed because resistance to current insecticides allows resurgence of disease-transmitting mosquitoes while concerns for human toxicity from current compounds are growing. We previously reported the finding of a free cysteine (Cys) residue at the entrance of the active site of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in some insects but not in mammals, birds, and fish. These insects have two AChE genes (AP and AO), and only AP-AChE carries the Cys residue. Most of these insects are disease vectors such as the African malaria mosquito (Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto) or crop pests such as aphids. Recently we reported a Cys-targeting small molecule that irreversibly inhibited all AChE activity extracted from aphids while an identical exposure caused no effect on the human AChE. Full inhibition of AChE in aphids indicates that AP-AChE contributes most of the enzymatic activity and suggests that the Cys residue might serve as a target for developing better aphicides. It is therefore worth investigating whether the Cys-targeting strategy is applicable to mosquitocides. Herein, we report that, under conditions that spare the human AChE, a methanethiosulfonate-containing molecule at 6 microM irreversibly inhibited 95% of the AChE activity extracted from An. gambiae s. str. and >80% of the activity from the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti L.) or the northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens L.) that is a vector of St. Louis encephalitis. This type of inhibition is fast ( approximately 30 min) and due to conjugation of the inhibitor to the active-site Cys of mosquito AP-AChE, according to our observed reactivation of the methanethiosulfonate-inhibited AChE by 2-mercaptoethanol. We also note that our sulfhydryl agents partially and irreversibly inhibited the human AChE after prolonged exposure (>4 hr). This slow inhibition is due to partial enzyme denaturation by the inhibitor and/or micelles of the inhibitor, according to our studies using atomic force microscopy, circular dichroism spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, and liquid chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. These results support our view that the mosquito-specific Cys is a viable target for developing new mosquitocides to control disease vectors and to alleviate resistance problems with reduced toxicity toward non-target species.
The nerve agent tabun inhibits the essential enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) by a rapid phosphoramidation of the catalytic serine residue. Oximes, such as K027 and HLö-7, can reactivate tabun-inhibited human AChE (tabun-hAChE) whereas the activity of their close structural analogue HI-6 is notably low. To investigate HI-6, K027 and HLö-7, residues lining the active-site gorge of hAChE were substituted and the effects on kinetic parameters for reactivation were determined. None of the mutants (Asp74Asn, Asp74Glu, Tyr124Phe, Tyr337Ala, Tyr337Phe, Phe338Val and Tyr341Ala) were able to facilitate HI-6-mediated reactivation of tabun-hAChE. In contrast, Tyr124Phe and Tyr337Phe induce a 2-2.5-fold enhancement of the bimolecular rate constant for K027 and HLö-7. The largest effects on the dissociation constant (3.5-fold increase) and rate constant (20-fold decrease) were observed for Tyr341Ala and Asp74Asn, respectively. These findings demonstrate the importance of residues located distant from the conjugate during the reactivation of tabun-hAChE.
Organophosphonates such as isopropyl metylphosphonofluoridate (sarin) are extremely toxic as they phosphonylate the catalytic serine residue of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme essential to humans and other species. Design of effective AChE reactivators as antidotes to various organophosphonates requires information on how the reactivators interact with the phosphonylated AChEs. However, such information has not been available hitherto because of three main challenges. First, reactivators are generally flexible in order to change from the ground state to the transition state for reactivation; this flexibility discourages determination of crystal structures of AChE in complex with effective reactivators that are intrinsically disordered. Second, reactivation occurs upon binding of a reactivator to the phosphonylated AChE. Third, the phosphorous conjugate can develop resistance to reactivation. We have identified crystallographic conditions that led to the determination of a crystal structure of the sarin(nonaged)-conjugated mouse AChE in complex with [(E)-[1-[(4-carbamoylpyridin-1-ium-1-yl)methoxymethyl]pyridin-2-ylidene]methyl]-oxoazanium dichloride (HI-6) at a resolution of 2.2 A. In this structure, the carboxyamino-pyridinium ring of HI-6 is sandwiched by Tyr124 and Trp286, however, the oxime-pyridinium ring is disordered. By combining crystallography with microsecond molecular dynamics simulation, we determined the oxime-pyridinium ring structure, which shows that the oxime group of HI-6 can form a hydrogen-bond network to the sarin isopropyl ether oxygen, and a water molecule is able to form a hydrogen bond to the catalytic histidine residue and subsequently deprotonates the oxime for reactivation. These results offer insights into the reactivation mechanism of HI-6 and design of better reactivators.
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