Acetylcholinesterase peripheral anionic site degeneracy conferred by amino acid arrays sharing a common core

J Biol Chem. 1994 Mar 4;269(9):6296-305.


Several of the residues constituting the peripheral anionic site (PAS) in human acetylcholinesterase (HuAChE) were identified by a combination of kinetic studies with 19 single and multiple HuAChE mutants, fluorescence binding studies with the Trp-286 mutant, and by molecular modeling. Mutants were analyzed with three structurally distinct positively charged PAS ligands, propidium, decamethonium, and di(p-allyl-N-dimethylaminophenyl)pentane-3-one (BW284C51), as well as with selective active center inhibitors, hexamethonium and edrophonium. Single mutations of residues Tyr-72, Tyr-124, Glu-285, Trp-286, and Tyr-341 resulted in up to 10-fold increase in inhibition constants for PAS ligands, whereas for multiple mutants up to 400-fold increase was observed. The 6th PAS element residue Asp-74 is unique in its ability to affect conformation of both the active site and the PAS (Shafferman, A., Velan, B., Ordentlich, A., Kronman, C., Grosfeld, H., Leitner, M., Flashner, Y., Cohen, S., Barak, D., and Ariel, N. (1992) EMBO J. 11, 3561-3568) as demonstrated by the several hundred-fold increase in Ki for D74N inhibition by the bisquaternary ligands decamethonium and BW284C51. Based on these studies, singular molecular models for the various HuAChE inhibitor complexes were defined. Yet, for the decamethonium complex two distinct conformations were generated, accommodating the quaternary ammonium group by interactions with either Trp-286 or with Tyr-341. We propose that the PAS consists of a number of binding sites, close to the entrance of the active site gorge, sharing residues Asp-74 and Trp-286 as a common core. Binding of ligands to these residues may be the key to the allosteric modulation of HuAChE catalytic activity. This functional degeneracy is a result of the ability of the Trp-286 indole moiety to interact either via stacking, aromatic-aromatic, or via pi-cation attractions and the involvement of the carboxylate of Asp-74 in charge-charge or H-bond interactions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / biosynthesis
  • Acetylcholinesterase / chemistry
  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Point Mutation
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transfection


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Acetylcholinesterase