Contribution of aromatic moieties of tyrosine 133 and of the anionic subsite tryptophan 86 to catalytic efficiency and allosteric modulation of acetylcholinesterase

J Biol Chem. 1995 Feb 3;270(5):2082-91. doi: 10.1074/jbc.270.5.2082.


Substitution of Trp-86, in the active center of human acetylcholinesterase (HuAChE), by aliphatic but not by aromatic residues resulted in a several thousandfold decrease in reactivity toward charged substrate and inhibitors but only a severalfold decrease for noncharged substrate and inhibitors. The W86A and W86E HuAChE enzymes exhibit at least a 100-fold increase in the Michaelis-Menten constant or 100-10,000-fold increase in inhibition constants toward various charged inhibitors, as compared to W86F HuAChE or the wild type enzyme. On the other hand, replacement of Glu-202, the only acidic residue proximal to the catalytic site, by glutamine resulted in a nonselective decrease in reactivity toward charged and noncharged substrates or inhibitors. Thus, the quaternary nitrogen groups of substrates and other active center ligands, are stabilized by cation-aromatic interaction with Trp-86 rather than by ionic interactions, while noncharged ligands appear to bind to distinct site(s) in HuAChE. Analysis of the Y133F and Y133A HuAChE mutated enzymes suggests that the highly conserved Tyr-133 plays a dual role in the active center: (a) its hydroxyl appears to maintain the functional orientation of Glu-202 by hydrogen bonding and (b) its aromatic moiety maintains the functional orientation of the anionic subsite Trp-86. In the absence of aromatic interactions between Tyr-133 and Trp-86, the tryptophan acquires a conformation that obstructs the active site leading, in the Y133A enzyme, to several hundredfold decrease in rates of catalysis, phosphorylation, or in affinity to reversible active site inhibitors. It is proposed that allosteric modulation of acetylcholinesterase activity, induced by binding to the peripheral anionic sites, proceeds through such conformational change of Trp-86 from a functional anionic subsite state to one that restricts access of substrates to the active center.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism*
  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Binding Sites
  • Catalysis
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Conformation
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tryptophan / chemistry
  • Tyrosine / chemistry


  • Ligands
  • Tyrosine
  • Tryptophan
  • Acetylcholinesterase