Cholinesterase enzyme

Cholinesterase enzyme

Name = acetylcholinesterase (Yt blood group)
caption = Diagram of Pacific electric ray acetylcholinesterase. From PDB|1EA5.

width = 200
HGNCid = 108
Symbol = ACHE
AltSymbols = YT
EntrezGene = 43
OMIM = 100740
RefSeq = NM_015831
UniProt = P22303
ECnumber =
Chromosome = 7
Arm = q
Band = 22
LocusSupplementaryData =
Name = butyrylcholinesterase
caption = Cartoon diagram of human butyrylcholinesterase. From PDB|1P0I.

width =
HGNCid = 983
Symbol = BCHE
AltSymbols = CHE1
EntrezGene = 590
OMIM = 177400
RefSeq = NM_000055
UniProt = P06276
ECnumber =
Chromosome = 3
Arm = q
Band = 26.1
LocusSupplementaryData = -26.2

In biochemistry, cholinesterase is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine into choline and acetic acid, a reaction necessary to allow a cholinergic neuron to return to its resting state after activation.


There are two types:
*Acetylcholinesterase (EC number| (AChE), also known as "RBC cholinesterase", "erythrocyte cholinesterase", or (most formally) "acetylcholine acetylhydrolase", found primarily in the blood and neural synapses
*Pseudocholinesterase (EC number| (BChE or BuChE), also known as "plasma cholinesterase", "butyrylcholinesterase", or (most formally) "acylcholine acylhydrolase", found primarily in the liver.

The difference between the two types of cholinesterase has to do with their respective preferences for substrates: the former hydrolyses acetylcholine more quickly; the latter hydrolyses butyrylcholine more quickly.


In 1968, Walo Leuzinger "et al." successfully purified and crystallized the enzyme from electric eels at Columbia University, NY. [Leuzinger W, Baker AL (1967). "Acetylcholinesterase, I. Large-scale purification, homogeneity, and amino acid analysis". "Proc Natl Acad Sci USA" 57 (2): 446–451. PMID 16591490. PMC|335526] [Leuzinger W, Baker AL, Cauvin E (1968). "Acetylcholinesterase. II. Crystallization, absorption spectra, isoionic point". "Proc Natl Acad Sci USA" 59 (2): 620–3. PMID 5238989. PMC|224717]

The 3D structure of acetylcholinesterase was first determined in 1991 by Joel Sussman "et al." using protein from the Pacific electric ray. [Sussman JL, Harel M, Frolow F, "et al." (1991). "Atomic structure of acetylcholinesterase from "Torpedo californica": a prototypic acetylcholine-binding protein". "Science" 253 (5022): 872–9. PMID 1678899.]

Clinically-useful quantities of butyrylcholinesterase were synthesized in 2007 by PharmAthene, through the use of genetically-modified goats. [ Nerve gas antidote made by goats] . BBC (24 July 2007). Retrieved on 2007-11-21.] Huang YJ, Huang Y, Baldassarre H, et al (2007). "Recombinant human butyrylcholinesterase from milk of transgenic animals to protect against organophosphate poisoning". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104 (34): 13603–8. doi|10.1073/pnas.0702756104. PMID 17660298. PMC|1934339]

Clinical significance

An absence or mutation of the pseudocholinesterase enzyme leads to a medical condition known as pseudocholinesterase deficiency. This is a silent condition that manifests itself only when people that have the deficiency receive the muscle relaxants succinylcholine or mivacurium during a surgery. A deficiency of serum pseeudocholinesterase has been reported in premenstrual syndrome [ AJ Giannini, WA Price, MC Giannini, RH Loiselle. Pseudocholinestrase in premenstrual syndrome. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 45:139-141,1985 ] and chronic pain [ Decreased pseudocholinesterase activity in patients with chronic pain. Psychiatric Forum:(13)2:98-99,1984] .

Elevation of plasma pseudocholinesterase was observed in 90.5% cases of acute myocardial infarction. [Textbook of Medical Biochemistry, MN Chatterjea & Rana Shinde, 6th Ed, 2005 (Pg 565)]

The presence of acetylcholinesterase in the amniotic fluid may be tested in early pregnancy. A sample of amniotic fluid is removed by amniocentesis, and presence of AChE can confirm several common types of birth defect, including abdominal wall defects and neural tube defects. [ [ FBR Resource Guide: Acetylcholinesterase-Amniotic Fluid] . Foundation for Blood Research (September 7 2007. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.]

Butyrylcholinesterase can be used as a prophylactic agent against nerve gas and other organophosphate poisoning.

Cholinesterase inhibitors

A cholinesterase inhibitor (or "anticholinesterase") suppresses the action of the enzyme. Because of its essential function, chemicals that interfere with the action of cholinesterase are potent neurotoxins, causing excessive salivation and eye-watering in low doses, followed by muscle spasms and ultimately death (examples are some snake venoms, and the nerve gases sarin and VX). One counteracting medication is pralidoxime.

Among the most common acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are phosphorus-based compounds, which are designed to bind to the active site of the enzyme. The structural requirements are a phosphorus atom bearing two lipophilic groups, a leaving group (such as a halide or thiocyanate), and a terminal oxygen. The entry on Lawesson's reagent has some details on one sub-class of the phosphorus-based compounds.

Benzodiazepines, eg temazepam have an inhibitory effect on cholinesterase. [cite journal | author = Holmes JH | coauthors = Kanfer I, Zwarenstein H. | year = 1978 | month = Aug | title = Effect of benzodiazepine derivatives on human blood cholinesterase in vitro. | journal = Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol | volume = 21 | issue = 2 | pages = 367-70 | pmid = 29327 ]

Outside of biochemical warfare, anticholinesterases are also used in anesthesia or in the treatment of myasthenia gravis, glaucoma, and Alzheimer's disease. Also, such compounds are used for killing insects in a range of products including sheep dip, organophosphate pesticides, and carbamate pesticides. In addition to acute poisoning as described above, a semi-acute poisoning characterized by strong mental disturbances can occur. Also, prolonged exposure can cause birth defects.

Pop culture

* On of "", Olivia Benson is taken to the hospital after being exposed to organophosphates, where she is told her cholinesterase level is low.



External links

* [ ATSDR Case Studies in Environmental Medicine: Cholinesterase Inhibitors, Including Insecticides and Chemical Warfare Nerve Agents] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
* [ Movies at] showing the structure of acetylcholinesterase and interactions with various inhibitors.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Cholinesterase — Cholinestérase L acétylcholinestérase est la principale enzyme du genre cholinestérase. En biochimie une cholinestérase est une enzyme qui catalyse la réaction d hydrolyse d un ester de la choline (acétylcholine, butyrylcholine) en c …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cholinesterase — [kō΄lənes′tər ās΄] n. [< CHOLINE + ESTERASE] an enzyme which hydrolyzes a choline ester; esp., acetylcholine, which converts to choline and acetic acid, thus canceling a nerve impulse transmission …   English World dictionary

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  • Cholinesterase — Cholinesterasen (ChE) sind Enzyme, die Cholin Ester spalten. Sie sind im Stoffwechsel von vielzelligen Tieren unverzichtbar zum Abbau dieser Stoffe, insbesondere des Acetylcholins, einem Neurotransmitter. Es gibt zwei Cholinesterasen.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • cholinesterase — One of a family of enzymes capable of catalyzing the hydrolysis of acylcholines and a few other compounds. In mammals, found in white matter of brain, liver, heart, pancreas, and serum. It is also found in cobra venom. SEE ALSO …   Medical dictionary

  • cholinesterase — noun an enzyme that hydrolyses acetylcholine (into choline and acetic acid) • Hypernyms: ↑enzyme …   Useful english dictionary

  • cholinesterase — noun Date: 1932 1. acetylcholinesterase 2. an enzyme that hydrolyzes choline esters and that is found especially in blood plasma called also pseudocholinesterase …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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