Concentration-dependent interactions of the organophosphates chlorpyrifos oxon and methyl paraoxon with human recombinant acetylcholinesterase

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For many decades it has been thought that oxygen analogs (oxons) of organophosphorus insecticides phosphorylate the catalytic site of acetylcholinesterase by a mechanism that follows simple Michaelis–Menten kinetics. More recently, the interactions of at least some oxons have been shown to be far more complex and likely involve binding of oxons to a second site on acetylcholinesterase that modulates the inhibitory capacity of other oxon molecules at the catalytic site. The current study has investigated the interactions of chlorpyrifos oxon and methyl paraoxon with human recombinant acetylcholinesterase. Both chlorpyrifos oxon and methyl paraoxon were found to have ki's that change as a function of oxon concentration. Furthermore, 10 nM chlorpyrifos oxon resulted in a transient increase in acetylthiocholine hydrolysis, followed by inhibition. Moreover, in the presence of 100 nM chlorpyrifos oxon, acetylthiocholine was found to influence both the Kd (binding affinity) and k2 (phosphorylation constant) of this oxon. Collectively, these results demonstrate that the interactions of chlorpyrifos oxon and methyl paraoxon with acetylcholinesterase cannot be described by simple Michaelis–Menten kinetics but instead support the hypothesis that these oxons bind to a secondary site on acetylcholinesterase, leading to activation/inhibition of the catalytic site, depending on the nature of the substrate and inhibitor. Additionally, these data raise questions regarding the adequacy of estimating risk of low levels of insecticide exposure from direct extrapolation of insecticide dose–response curves since the capacity of individual oxon molecules at low oxon levels could be greater than individual oxon molecules in vivo associated with the dose–response curve.

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