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Journal Articles Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Year : 2004

Freeze-frame inhibitor captures acetylcholinesterase in a unique conformation


The 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction between unactivated azides and acetylenes proceeds exceedingly slowly at room temperature. However, considerable rate acceleration is observed when this reaction occurs inside the active center gorge of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) between certain azide and acetylene reactants, attached via methylene chains to specific inhibitor moieties selective for the active center and peripheral site of the enzyme. AChE catalyzes the formation of its own inhibitor in a highly selective fashion: only a single syn1-triazole regioisomer with defined substitution positions and linker distances is generated from a series of reagent combinations. Inhibition measurements revealed this syn1-triazole isomer to be the highest affinity reversible organic inhibitor of AChE with association rate constants near the diffusion limit. The corresponding anti1 isomer, not formed by the enzyme, proved to be a respectable but weaker inhibitor. The crystal structures of the syn1- and anti1-mouse AChE complexes at 2.45- to 2.65-Å resolution reveal not only substantial binding contributions from the triazole moieties, but also that binding of the syn1 isomer induces large and unprecedented enzyme conformational changes not observed in the anti1 complex nor predicted from structures of the apoenzyme and complexes with the precursor reactants. Hence, the freeze-frame reaction offers both a strategically original approach for drug discovery and a means for kinetically controlled capture, as a high-affinity complex between the enzyme and its self-created inhibitor, of a highly reactive minor abundance conformer of a fluctuating protein template. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) rapidly terminates cholinergic neurotransmission by catalyzing the hydrolysis of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, and inhibitors of AChE have been used for over a century in various therapeutic regimens (1, 2). The structure of the target enzyme reveals a narrow gorge ≈20 Å in depth with the catalytic triad of the active center at its base (3). Distinctive inhibitors bind to the active center or to a peripheral anionic site (PAS) located at the rim of the gorge near the enzyme surface (4-6). Previously, we generated a library of active site and PAS inhibitors with respective tacrine and phenanthridinium nuclei, each equipped with an azide or acetylene group at the end of a flexible methylene chain, to enable the reporting 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition to occur (Scheme 1) (7). AChE itself served as the reaction vessel, synthesizing its own inhibitor from these building blocks, in effect, by equilibrium-controlled sampling of various possible pairs of reactants in its active center gorge until irreversible cycloaddition between azide and acetylene ensued at an intersecting point within the gorge, between the two anchoring positions. From 49 building block combinations, the enzyme selected the TZ2/PA6 pair to form, with an enhanced reaction rate, a highly regioselective syn1 triazole as the sole product (Scheme 1). In contrast, chemical synthesis by thermal reaction in the absence of enzyme proceeds very slowly and provides an ≈1:1 mixture of syn1 and anti1 regioisomers, which differ in the nitrogen substitution positions on the 1,2,3-triazole. Although both are high-affinity inhibitors, the syn1 isomer, with a 100-fold greater affinity and a subpicomolar dissociation constant for certain AChEs (7), has a potency greater than all known noncovalent organic AChE inhibitors and high selectivity for individual cholinesterases.

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hal-03263174 , version 1 (17-06-2021)



Y. Bourne, H. Kolb, Z. Radic, K. Sharpless, P. Taylor, et al.. Freeze-frame inhibitor captures acetylcholinesterase in a unique conformation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2004, 101 (6), pp.1449-1454. ⟨10.1073/pnas.0308206100⟩. ⟨hal-03263174⟩
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