Reversibly bound and covalently attached ligands induce conformational changes in the omega loop, Cys69-Cys96, of mouse acetylcholinesterase

J Biol Chem. 2001 Nov 9;276(45):42196-204. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M106896200. Epub 2001 Aug 21.


We have used a combination of cysteine substitution mutagenesis and site-specific labeling to characterize the structural dynamics of mouse acetylcholinesterase (mAChE). Six cysteine-substituted sites of mAChE (Leu(76), Glu(81), Glu(84), Tyr(124), Ala(262), and His(287)) were labeled with the environmentally sensitive fluorophore, acrylodan, and the kinetics of substrate hydrolysis and inhibitor association were examined along with spectroscopic characteristics of the acrylodan-conjugated, cysteine-substituted enzymes. Residue 262, being well removed from the active center, appears unaffected by inhibitor binding. Following the binding of ligand, hypsochromic shifts in emission of acrylodan at residues 124 and 287, located near the perimeter of the gorge, reflect the exclusion of solvent and a hydrophobic environment created by the associated ligand. By contrast, the bathochromic shifts upon inhibitor binding seen for acrylodan conjugated to three omega loop (Omega loop) residues 76, 81, and 84 reveal that the acrylodan side chains at these positions are displaced from a hydrophobic environment and become exposed to solvent. The magnitude of fluorescence emission shift is largest at position 84 and smallest at position 76, indicating that a concerted movement of residues on the Omega loop accompanies gorge closure upon ligand binding. Acrylodan modification of substituted cysteine at position 84 reduces ligand binding and steady-state kinetic parameters between 1 and 2 orders of magnitude, but a similar substitution at position 81 only minimally alters the kinetics. Thus, combined kinetic and spectroscopic analyses provide strong evidence that conformational changes of the Omega loop accompany ligand binding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / chemistry*
  • Acetylthiocholine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Crystallography
  • Elapid Venoms / pharmacology
  • Fluorescence
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Protein Conformation


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Elapid Venoms
  • Ligands
  • Acetylthiocholine
  • fasciculin
  • Acetylcholinesterase