Reaction mechanism for cocaine esterase-catalyzed hydrolyses of (+)- and (-)-cocaine: Unexpected common rate-determining step

Junjun Liu, Xinyun Zhao, Wenchao Yang, Chang Guo Zhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

First-principles quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical free energy calculations have been performed to examine the catalytic mechanism for cocaine esterase (CocE)-catalyzed hydrolysis of (+)-cocaine in comparison with CocE-catalyzed hydrolysis of (-)-cocaine. It has been shown that the acylation of (+)-cocaine consists of nucleophilic attack of the hydroxyl group of Ser117 on the carbonyl carbon of (+)-cocaine benzoyl ester and the dissociation of (+)-cocaine benzoyl ester. The first reaction step of deacylation of (+)-cocaine, which is identical to that of (-)-cocaine, is rate-determining, indicating that CocE-catalyzed hydrolyses of (+)- and (-)-cocaine have a common rate-determining step. The computational results predict that the catalytic rate constant of CocE against (+)-cocaine should be the same as that of CocE against (-)-cocaine, in contrast with the remarkable difference between human butyrylcholinesterase-catalyzed hydrolyses of (+)- and (-)-cocaine. The prediction has been confirmed by experimental kinetic analysis on CocE-catalyzed hydrolysis of (+)-cocaine in comparison with CocE-catalyzed hydrolysis of (-)-cocaine. The determined common rate-determining step indicates that rational design of a high-activity mutant of CocE should be focused on the first reaction step of the deacylation. Furthermore, the obtained mechanistic insights into the detailed differences in the acylation between the (+)- and (-)-cocaine hydrolyses provide indirect clues for rational design of amino acid mutations that could more favorably stabilize the rate-determining transition state in the deacylation and, thus, improve the catalytic activity of CocE. This study provides a valuable mechanistic base for rational design of an improved esterase for therapeutic treatment of cocaine abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5017-5025
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Volume115
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - May 5 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

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