An Acetylcholinesterase-inspired Biomimetic Toxicity Sensor

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Publication Date

Fall 2012


This work demonstrates the ability of an acetylcholinesterase-inspired biomimetic sensor to accurately predict the toxicity of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors. In surface waters used for municipal drinking water supplies, numerous pesticides and other anthropogenic chemicals have been found that inhibit AChE; however, there is currently no portable toxicity assay capable of determining the potential neurotoxicity of water samples and complex mixtures. Biological assays have been developed to determine the toxicity of unknown samples, but the short shelf-life of cells and other biological materials often make them undesirable for use in portable assays. Chemical methods and structure-activity-relationships, on the other hand, require prior knowledge on the compounds of interest that is often unavailable when analyzing environmental samples. In the toxicity assay presented here, the acetylcholinesterase enzyme has been replaced with 1-phenyl-1,2,3-butanetrione 2-oxime (PBO) a biomimetic compound that is structurally similar to the AChE active site. Using a biomimetic compound in place of the native enzyme allows for a longer shelf-life while maintaining the selective and kinetic ability of the enzyme itself. Previous work has shown the success of oxime-based sensors in the selective detection of AChE inhibitors and this work highlights the ability of an AChE-inspired biomimetic sensor to accurately predict the toxicity (LD50 and LC50) for a range of AChE inhibitors. The biomimetic assay shows strong linear correlations to LD50 (oral, rat) and LC50 (fish) values. Using a test set of eight AChE inhibitors, the biomimetic assay accurately predicted the LC50 value for 75% of the inhibitors within one order of magnitude.





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