Addiction to cocaine is a major problem around the world, but especially in developed countries where the combination of wealth and user demand has created terrible social problems. Although only some users become truly addicted, those who are often succumb to a downward spiral in their lives from which it is very difficult to escape. From the medical perspective, the lack of effective and safe, non-addictive therapeutics has instigated efforts to develop alternative approaches for treatment, including anticocaine vaccines designed to block cocaine's pharmacodynamic effects.
In continuing efforts to develop gene transfer of human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) as therapy for cocaine addiction, we conducted wide-ranging studies of physiological and metabolic safety. For that purpose, mice were given injections of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector or helper-dependent adenoviral (hdAD) vector encoding human or mouse BChE mutated for optimal cocaine hydrolysis. Age-matched controls received saline or AAV-luciferase control vector. At times when transduced BChE was abundant, physiologic and metabolic parameters in conscious animals were evaluated by non-invasive Echo-MRI and an automated "Comprehensive Laboratory Animal Monitoring System" (CLAMS). Despite high vector doses (up to 10(13) particles per mouse) and high levels of transgene protein in the plasma (?1500-fold above baseline), the CLAMS apparatus revealed no adverse physiologic or metabolic effects. Likewise, body composition determined by Echo-MRI, and glucose tolerance remained normal. A CLAMS study of vector-treated mice given 40 mg/kg cocaine showed none of the physiologic and metabolic fluctuations exhibited in controls. We conclude that neither the tested vectors nor great excesses of circulating BChE affect general physiology directly, while they protect mice from disturbance by cocaine. Hence, viral gene transfer of BChE appears benign and worth exploring as a therapy for cocaine abuse and possibly other disorders as well.
A new pharmacokinetic approach treating cocaine addiction involves rapidly metabolizing cocaine before it reaches brain reward centers using mutated human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) or cocaine hydrolase (CocH). Recent work has shown that helper-dependent adenoviral (hdAD) vector-mediated plasma CocH reduced the locomotor-activating effects of cocaine and prevented reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior up to 6 months in rats. The present study investigated whether hdAD-CocH could decrease ongoing intravenous cocaine (0.4 mg/kg) self-administration. The hdAD-CocH vector was injected into self-administering rats, and after accumulation of plasma CocH, there was a dramatic reduction in cocaine infusions earned under a fixed ratio 1 schedule of reinforcement that lasted for the length of the study (>2 months). Pretreatment with the selective BChE and CocH inhibitor iso-OMPA (1.5 mg/kg) restored cocaine intake; therefore, the decline in self-administration was likely due to rapid CocH-mediated cocaine metabolism. Direct measurements of cocaine levels in plasma and brain samples taken after the conclusion of behavioral studies provided strong support for this conclusion. Further, rats injected with hdAD-CocH did not experience a deficit in operant responding for drug reinforcement and self-administered methamphetamine (0.05 mg/kg) at control levels. Overall, these outcomes suggest that viral gene transfer can yield plasma CocH levels that effectively diminish long-term cocaine intake and may have potential treatment implications for cocaine-dependent individuals seeking to become and remain abstinent.
Cocaine hydrolase gene transfer of mutated human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) is evolving as a promising therapy for cocaine addiction. BChE levels after gene transfer can be 1,500-fold above those in untreated mice, making this enzyme the second most abundant plasma protein. Because mutated BChE is approximately 70 % as efficient in hydrolyzing acetylcholine as wild-type enzyme, it is important to examine the impact on cholinergic function. Here, we focused on memory and cognition (Stone T-maze), basic neuromuscular function (treadmill endurance and grip strength), and coordination (Rotarod). BALB/c mice were given adeno-associated virus vector or helper-dependent adenoviral vector encoding mouse or human BChE optimized for cocaine. Age-matched controls received saline or luciferase vector. Despite high doses (up to 10(13) particles per mouse) and high transgene expression (1,000-fold above baseline), no deleterious effects of vector treatment were seen in neurobehavioral functions. The vector-treated mice performed as saline-treated and luciferase controls in maze studies and strength tests, and their Rotarod and treadmill performance decreased less with age. Thus, neither the viral vectors nor the large excess of BChE caused observable toxic effects on the motor and cognitive systems investigated. This outcome justifies further steps toward an eventual clinical trial of vector-based gene transfer for cocaine abuse.
This review addresses potential new treatments for stimulant drugs of abuse, especially cocaine. Clinical trials of vaccines against cocaine and nicotine have been completed with the generally encouraging result that subjects showing high titers of antidrug antibody experience a reduction in drug reward, which may aid in cessation. New vaccine technologies, including gene transfer of highly optimized monoclonal antibodies, are likely to improve such outcomes further. In the special case of cocaine abuse, a metabolic enzyme is emerging as an alternative or added therapeutic intervention, which would also involve gene transfer. Such approaches still require extensive studies of safety and efficacy, but they may eventually contribute to a robust form of in vivo drug interception that greatly reduces the risks of addiction relapse.
Gene transfer of a human cocaine hydrolase (hCocH) derived from butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) by 5 mutations (A199S/F227A/S287G/A328W/Y332G) has shown promise in animal studies for treatment of cocaine addiction. To predict the physiological fate and immunogenicity of this enzyme in humans, a comparable enzyme was created and tested in a conspecific host. Thus, similar mutations (A199S/S227A/S287G/A328W/Y332G) were introduced into mouse BChE to obtain a mouse CocH (mCocH). The cDNA was incorporated into viral vectors based on: a) serotype-5 helper-dependent adenovirus (hdAD) with ApoE promoter, and b) serotype-8 adeno-associated virus with CMV promoter (AAV-CMV) or multiple promoter and enhancer elements (AAV-VIP). Experiments on substrate kinetics of purified mCocH expressed in HEK293T cells showed 30-fold higher activity (U/mg) with (3)H-cocaine and 25% lower activity with butyrylthiocholine, compared with wild type BChE. In mice given modest doses of AAV-CMV-mCocH vector (0.7 or 3 × 10(11) particles) plasma hydrolase activity rose 10-fold above control for over one year with no observed immune response. Under the same conditions, transduction of the human counterpart continued less than 2 months and antibodies to hCocH were readily detected. The advanced AAV-VIP-mCocH vector generated a dose-dependent rise in plasma cocaine hydrolase activity from 20-fold (10(10) particles) to 20,000 fold (10(13) particles), while the hdAD vector (1.7 × 10(12) particles) yielded a 300,000-fold increase. Neither vector caused adverse reactions such as motor weakness, elevated liver enzymes, or disturbance in spontaneous activity. Furthermore, treatment with high dose hdAD-ApoE-mCocH vector (1.7 × 10(12) particles) prevented locomotor abnormalities, other behavioral signs, and release of hepatic alanine amino transferase after a cocaine dose fatal to most control mice (120 mg/kg). This outcome suggests that viral gene transfer can yield clinically effective cocaine hydrolase expression for lengthy periods without immune reactions or cholinergic dysfunction, while blocking toxicity from drug overdose.
Recent progress in enzyme engineering has led to versions of human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) that hydrolyze cocaine efficiently in plasma, reduce concentrations reaching reward neurocircuity in the brain, and weaken behavioral responses to this drug. Along with enzyme advances, increasingly avid anti-cocaine antibodies and potent anti-cocaine vaccines have also been developed. Here we review these developments and consider the potential advantages along with the risks of delivering drug-intercepting proteins via gene transfer approaches to treat cocaine addiction.
Cocaine dependence is a pervasive disorder with high rates of relapse. In a previous study, direct administration of a quadruple mutant albumin-fused butyrylcholinesterase that efficiently catalyzes hydrolysis of cocaine to benzoic acid and ecgonine methyl ester acutely blocked cocaine seeking in an animal model of relapse. In the present experiments, these results were extended to achieve a long-duration blockade of cocaine seeking with a gene transfer paradigm using a related butyrylcholinesterase-based cocaine hydrolase (CocH).
Previously, Albu-CocH, a cocaine hydrolase derived from human butyrylcholinesterase, blocked cocaine-induced reinstatement of drug seeking in rats. In the present study, rats were treated with Albu-CocH while self-administering cocaine under a progressive ratio (PR) schedule during 2-h sessions and under a fixed-ratio 1 (FR 1) schedule during 6-h sessions.
Cocaine access to brain tissue and associated cocaine-induced behaviors are substantially reduced in rats and mice by significant plasma levels of an enzyme that rapidly metabolizes the drug. Similar results have been obtained in rodents and humans with therapeutic anti-cocaine antibodies, which sequester the drug and prevent its entry into the brain. We show that an efficient cocaine hydrolase can lead to rapid unloading of anti-cocaine antibodies saturated with cocaine, and we provide a theoretical basis for the hypothesis that dual therapy with antibody and hydrolase enzyme may be especially effective.
Insecticides directed against acetylcholinesterase (AChE) are facing increased resistance among target species as well as increasing concerns for human toxicity. The result has been a resurgence of disease vectors, insects destructive to agriculture, and residential pests. We previously reported a free cysteine (Cys) residue at the entrance to the AChE active site in some insects but not higher vertebrates. We also reported Cys-targeting methanethiosulfonate molecules (AMTSn), which, under conditions that spared human AChE, caused total irreversible inhibition of aphid AChE, 95% inhibition of AChE from the malaria vector mosquito (Anopheles gambia), and >80% inhibition of activity from the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens). We now find the same compounds inhibit AChE from cockroaches (Blattella germanica and Periplaneta americana), the flour beetle (Tribolium confusum), the multi-colored Asian ladybird beetle (Harmonia axyridis), the bed bug (Cimex lectularius), and a wasp (Vespula maculifrons), with IC(50) values of approximately 1-11muM. Our results support further study of Cys-targeting inhibitors as conceptually novel insecticides that may be free of resistance in a range of insect pests and disease vectors and, compared with current compounds, should demonstrate much lower toxicity to mammals, birds, and fish.
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.
We previously found that a quadruple mutant cocaine hydrolase derived from human butyrylcholinesterase [termed cocaine esterase (CocE)] can suppress or reverse cocaine toxicity and abolish drug-primed reinstatement in rats. Here, we examined whether gene transfer of CocE reduces cocaine actions in brain reward centers. Early experiments used a standard, early region 1-deleted adenoviral vector, which, after intravenous delivery of 10(10) plaque-forming units, caused plasma cocaine hydrolase activity to rise 25,000-fold between day 4 and day 7. During this period, under a protocol that typically induces FosB expression in the caudate nucleus, these rats and unprotected controls given only empty vector or saline were subjected to repeated twice-daily injections of cocaine (30 mg/kg i.p.). Immunohistochemistry of the neostriatum on day 7 showed many FosB-reactive nuclei in unprotected rats but few if any in rats pretreated with active vector, which resembled rats never exposed to cocaine. Western blots confirmed this result. In contrast there was a more localized protection against cocaine-elicited FosB induction when hydrolase vector was injected directly into the ventral striatum, which generated high transgene expression in many neurons of the target area. Similar results were obtained with systemic and local injection of a more efficient helper-dependent adenoviral vector, which transduced high levels of hydrolase for at least 2 months, with lesser expression continued up to 1 year. Behavioral tests are now warranted to determine whether such effects can reduce drug-seeking behavior and lower the probability of relapse.
Aphids, among the most destructive insects to world agriculture, are mainly controlled by organophosphate insecticides that disable the catalytic serine residue of acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Because these agents also affect vertebrate AChEs, they are toxic to non-target species including humans and birds. We previously reported that a cysteine residue (Cys), found at the AChE active site in aphids and other insects but not mammals, might serve as a target for insect-selective pesticides. However, aphids have two different AChEs (termed AP and AO), and only AP-AChE carries the unique Cys. The absence of the active-site Cys in AO-AChE might raise concerns about the utility of targeting that residue. Herein we report the development of a methanethiosulfonate-containing small molecule that, at 6.0 microM, irreversibly inhibits 99% of all AChE activity extracted from the greenbug aphid (Schizaphis graminum) without any measurable inhibition of the human AChE. Reactivation studies using beta-mercaptoethanol confirm that the irreversible inhibition resulted from the conjugation of the inhibitor to the unique Cys. These results suggest that AO-AChE does not contribute significantly to the overall AChE activity in aphids, thus offering new insight into the relative functional importance of the two insect AChEs. More importantly, by demonstrating that the Cys-targeting inhibitor can abolish AChE activity in aphids, we can conclude that the unique Cys may be a viable target for species-selective agents to control aphids without causing human toxicity and resistance problems.
Angiotensin II (Ang II) and its type-1 receptor (AT(1)) occur in neurons at multiple locations within the organism, but the basic biology of the receptor in the nervous system remains incompletely understood. We previously observed abundant AT(1)-like binding sites and intense expression of AT(1) immunoreactivity in perikarya of the dorsal root ganglion and ventral horn of the rat spinal cord. We have now examined the receptor in rat sciatic nerve, including the dynamics of its axonal transport. Ligand-binding autoradiography of resting nerve showed "hot spots" of (125)I-Ang II binding that could be specifically blocked by the AT(1) antagonist, losartan. Immunohistochemistry with an AT(1)-antibody validated by Western blots also showed patches of AT(1)-reactivity in nerve. These patches were localized around large myelinated axons with faint immunoreactivity in their lumens. Sixteen hours after nerve ligation there was no change in the patches or hot spots, but luminal AT(1)-reactivity increased dramatically in a narrow zone immediately above the ligature. With double ligation there was a pronounced accumulation of AT(1) immunoreactivity proximal to the upstream ligature and a very slight accumulation distal to the second ligature. This asymmetric pattern of accumulation, confirmed by quantitative receptor binding autoradiography, probably reflected axonal transport rather than local production of receptor. Retrograde tracing and stereological analysis to determine the source of transported AT(1) indicated that many AT(1)-positive fibers arise in the ventral horn, and a larger number arise in dorsal root ganglia. A corresponding result was obtained with double-label immunohistochemistry of ligated nerve, which showed AT(1) accumulations in both motor and sensory fibers. We conclude that somatic sensory and motor neurons of the rat export substantial quantities of AT(1) into axons, which transport them to the periphery. The physiologic implications of this finding require further investigation.
Amyloid-beta (A?), the main peptide constituent of senile plaques, is a suspected pathogenic mediator in Alzheimers Disease (AD). Plaques also contain acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which may promote A? toxicity. We previously found that A? increased AChE levels in neuron-like N1E.115 neuroblastoma cells by reducing AChE degradation and surface shedding. Here we show that A? also alters the intracellular fate of surface AChE. When surface AChE was tagged with FITC-conjugated Fasciculin II (FasII), fluorescence gradually accumulated in intracellular particles. In the presence of extracellular A? this accumulation increased and shifted from the juxtanuclear zone to more peripheral cytoplasm. The cytoplasmic FasII-positive structures were positive for Lysosomal-Associated Membrane Protein 1, identifying them as late endosomes and early lysosomes. Thus, surface AChE trafficked into the lysosomal compartment, but further transport was impaired. A? also affected the transport or disposition of fluorescent dextran, an index of pinocytosis, and caused a 60% increase in intracellular accumulation similar to the lysosomotropic effects of chloroquine. On the other hand, A? caused no apparent changes in clathrin- and caveolae-mediated endocytosis. Overall it appears that selective alteration of endocytic mechanisms and an accumulation of organelles containing improperly processed substrates might contribute to the neuronal damage associated with age and disease-related accumulation of neurotoxic A? in the human brain.
Drug-associated cues can elicit relapse to drug seeking after abstinence. Studies with extinction-reinstatement models implicate dopamine (DA) in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAshell) and dorsolateral caudate-putamen (dlCPu) in cocaine seeking. However, less is known about their roles in cue-induced opiate seeking after prolonged abstinence. Using a morphine self-administration and abstinence-relapse model, we explored the roles of NAshell and dlCPu DA and the D1/D2-like receptor mechanisms underlying morphine rewarding and/or seeking. Acquisition of morphine self-administration was examined following 6-Hydroxydopamine hydrobromide (6-OHDA) lesions of the NAshell and dlCPu. For morphine seeking, rats underwent 3 weeks morphine self-administration followed by 3 weeks abstinence from morphine and the training environment. Prior to testing, 6-OHDA, D1 antagonist SCH23390, or D2 antagonist eticlopride was locally injected; then rats were exposed to morphine-associated contextual and discrete cues. Results show that acquisition of morphine self-administration was inhibited by NAshell (not dlCPu) lesions, while morphine seeking was attenuated by lesions of either region, by D1 (not D2) receptor blockade in NAshell, or by blockade of either D1 or D2 receptors in dlCPu. These data indicate a critical role of dopaminergic transmission in the NAshell (via D1-like receptors) and dlCPu (via D1- and D2-like receptors) in morphine seeking after prolonged abstinence.
Cocaine addiction affects millions of people with disastrous personal and social consequences. Cocaine is one of the most reinforcing of all drugs of abuse, and even those who undergo rehabilitation and experience long periods of abstinence have more than 80% chance of relapse. Yet there is no FDA-approved treatment to decrease the likelihood of relapse in rehabilitated addicts. Recent studies, however, have demonstrated a promising potential treatment option with the help of the serum enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), which is capable of breaking down naturally occurring (-)-cocaine before the drug can influence the reward centers of the brain or affect other areas of the body. This activity of wild-type (WT) BChE, however, is relatively low. This prompted the design of variants of BChE which exhibit significantly improved catalytic activity against (-)-cocaine. Plants are a promising means to produce large amounts of these cocaine hydrolase variants of BChE, cheaply, safely with no concerns regarding human pathogens and functionally equivalent to enzymes derived from other sources. Here, in expressing cocaine-hydrolyzing mutants of BChE in Nicotiana benthamiana using the MagnICON virus-assisted transient expression system, and in reporting their initial biochemical analysis, we provide proof-of-principle that plants can express engineered BChE proteins with desired properties.
We are investigating treatments for cocaine abuse based on viral gene transfer of a cocaine hydrolase (CocH) derived from human butyrylcholinesterase, which can reduce cocaine-stimulated locomotion and cocaine-primed reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior in rats for many months. Here, in mice, we explored the possibility that anti-cocaine antibodies can complement the actions of CocH to reduce cocaine uptake in brain and block centrally-evoked locomotor stimulation. Direct injections of test proteins showed that CocH (0.3 or 1mg/kg) was effective by itself in reducing drug levels in plasma and brain of mice given cocaine (10mg/kg, s.c., or 20mg/kg, i.p). Administration of cocaine antibody per se at a low dose (8 mg/kg, i.p.) exerted little effect on cocaine distribution. However, a higher dose of antibody (12 mg/kg) caused peripheral trapping (increased plasma drug levels), which led to increased cocaine metabolism by CocH, as evidenced by a 6-fold rise in plasma benzoic acid. Behavioral tests with small doses of CocH and antibody (1 and 8 mg/kg, respectively) showed that neither agent alone reduced mouse locomotor activity triggered by a very large cocaine dose (100mg/kg, i.p.). However, dual treatment completely suppressed the locomotor stimulation. Altogether, we found cooperative and possibly synergistic actions that warrant further exploration of dual therapies for treatment of cocaine abuse.
In developing an vivo drug-interception therapy to treat cocaine abuse and hinder relapse into drug seeking provoked by re-encounter with cocaine, two promising agents are: (1) a cocaine hydrolase enzyme (CocH) derived from human butyrylcholinesterase and delivered by gene transfer; (2) an anti-cocaine antibody elicited by vaccination. Recent behavioral experiments showed that antibody and enzyme work in a complementary fashion to reduce cocaine-stimulated locomotor activity in rats and mice. Our present goal was to test protection against liver damage and muscle weakness in mice challenged with massive doses of cocaine at or near the LD50 level (100-120 mg/kg, i.p.). We found that, when the interceptor proteins were combined at doses that were only modestly protective in isolation (enzyme, 1mg/kg; antibody, 8 mg/kg), they provided complete protection of liver tissue and motor function. When the enzyme levels were ~400-fold higher, after in vivo transduction by adeno-associated viral vector, similar protection was observed from CocH alone.
Mice and rats were tested for reduced sensitivity to cocaine-induced hyper-locomotion after pretreatment with anti-cocaine antibody or cocaine hydrolase (CocH) derived from human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE). In Balb/c mice, direct i.p. injection of CocH protein (1 mg/kg) had no effect on spontaneous locomotion, but it suppressed responses to i.p. cocaine up to 80 mg/kg. When CocH was injected i.p. along with a murine cocaine antiserum that also did not affect spontaneous locomotion, there was no response to any cocaine dose. This suppression of locomotor activity required active enzyme, as it was lost after pretreatment with iso-OMPA, a selective BChE inhibitor. Comparable results were obtained in rats that developed high levels of CocH by gene transfer with helper-dependent adenoviral vector, and/or high levels of anti-cocaine antibody by vaccination with norcocaine hapten conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). After these treatments, rats were subjected to a locomotor sensitization paradigm involving a "training phase" with an initial i.p. saline injection on day 1 followed by 8 days of repeated cocaine injections (10 mg/kg, i.p.). A 15-day rest period then ensued, followed by a final "challenge" cocaine injection. As in mice, the individual treatment interventions reduced cocaine-stimulated hyperactivity to a modest extent, while combined treatment produced a greater reduction during all phases of testing compared to control rats (with only saline pretreatment). Overall, the present results strongly support the view that anti-cocaine vaccine and cocaine hydrolase vector treatments together provide enhanced protection against the stimulatory actions of cocaine in rodents. A similar combination therapy in human cocaine users might provide a robust therapy to help maintain abstinence.
The importance of Krüppel-like factor (KLF)-mediated transcriptional pathways in the biochemistry of neuronal differentiation has been recognized relatively recently. Elegant studies have revealed that KLF proteins are important regulators of two major molecular and cellular processes critical for neuronal cell differentiation: neurite formation and the expression of neurotransmitter-related genes. However, whether KLF proteins mediate these key processes in a separate or coordinated fashion remains unknown. Moreover, knowledge on the contribution of chromatin dynamics to the biochemical mechanisms utilized by these proteins to perform their function is absent. Here we report the characterization of two antagonistic, chromatin-mediated mechanisms by which KLF11, also known as TIEG2 (transforming growth factor-?-inducible early gene 2) and MODY VII (maturity onset diabetes of the young VII), regulates transcription of the fopamine D2 receptor (Drd2) gene. First, KLF11 activates transcription by binding to a distinct Sp-KLF site within the Drd2 promoter (-98 to -94) and recruiting the p300 histone acetyltransferase. Second, Drd2 transcriptional activation is partially antagonized by heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1), the code reader for histone H3 lysine 9 methylation. Interestingly, KLF11 regulates neurotransmitter receptor gene expression in differentiating neuronal cell populations without affecting neurite formation. Overall, these studies highlight histone methylation and acetylation as key biochemical mechanisms modulating KLF-mediated neurotransmitter gene transcription. These data extend our knowledge of chromatin-mediated biochemical events that maintain key phenotypic features of differentiated neuronal cells.
Rapid progress in the past decade with re-engineering of human plasma butyrylcholinesterase has led to enzymes that destroy cocaine so efficiently that they prevent or interrupt drug actions in the CNS even though confined to the blood stream. Over the same time window, improved gene-transfer technology has made it possible to deliver such enzymes by endogenous gene transduction at high levels for periods of a year or longer after a single treatment. This article reviews recent advances in this field and considers prospects for development of a robust therapy aimed at aiding recovering drug users avoid addiction relapse.
Insect pests are responsible for human suffering and financial losses worldwide. New and environmentally safe insecticides are urgently needed to cope with these serious problems. Resistance to current insecticides has resulted in a resurgence of insect pests, and growing concerns about insecticide toxicity to humans discourage the use of insecticides for pest control. The small market for insecticides has hampered insecticide development; however, advances in genomics and structural genomics offer new opportunities to develop insecticides that are less dependent on the insecticide market. This review summarizes the literature data that support the hypothesis that an insect-specific cysteine residue located at the opening of the acetylcholinesterase active site is a promising target site for developing new insecticides with reduced off-target toxicity and low propensity for insect resistance. These data are used to discuss the differences between targeting the insect-specific cysteine residue and targeting the ubiquitous catalytic serine residue of acetylcholinesterase from the perspective of reducing off-target toxicity and insect resistance. Also discussed is the prospect of developing cysteine-targeting anticholinesterases as effective and environmentally safe insecticides for control of disease vectors, crop damage, and residential insect pests within the financial confines of the present insecticide market.
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