Targeted Oxidation of Torpedo californica Acetylcholinesterase by Singlet Oxygen


Corresponding author email: (Lev Weiner)


The photosensitizer, methylene blue (MB), is a strong reversible inhibitor of Torpedo californica acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in the dark. Under illumination it causes irreversible inactivation. Loss of fluorescence of the singlet oxygen (1O2) trap, 9,10-dimethylanthracene, was retarded in the presence of AChE, and the rate of photo-inactivation was increased in the presence of D2O, indicating that inactivation was due to 1O2 generated by the photosensitizer. CD revealed slightly reduced far-UV ellipticity, and slightly enhanced binding of an amphiphilic probe, indicating limited unfolding of the photo-oxidized AChE. However, both near-UV ellipticity and intrinsic fluorescence were markedly reduced, suggesting photo-oxidative damage to tryptophans, (Trp) supported by appearance of novel emission peaks ascribed to N′-formylkynurenine and/or kynurenine. Like other partially unfolded forms, the photo-oxidized AChE was sensitive to proteolysis. Photosensitized inactivation produced exclusively chemically cross-linked dimers, whereas irradiation of a partially unfolded state generated higher-order oligomers. The active-site gorge of AChE contains Trp in inhibitor-binding sites that might be targets for photo-oxidation. Indeed, reversible inhibitors retard photo-inactivation, and photo-inactivation destroys their binding sites. An excess of AChE protects paraoxonase from photo-inactivation by sequestering the photosensitizer. Affinity photo-oxidation of AChE by MB thus provides a valuable model for studying site-specific photo-inactivation of enzymes in both fundamental and clinical contexts.