Competitive Inhibition Mechanism of Acetylcholinesterase without Catalytic Active Site Interaction: Study on Functionalized C60 Nanoparticles via in Vitro and in Silico Assays

Yanyan Liu, Bing Yan, David A. Winkler, Jianjie Fu, Aiqian Zhang

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity regulation by chemical agents or, potentially, nanomaterials is important for both toxicology and pharmacology. Competitive inhibition via direct catalytic active sites (CAS) binding or noncompetitive inhibition through interference with substrate and product entering and exiting has been recognized previously as an AChE-inhibition mechanism for bespoke nanomaterials. The competitive inhibition by peripheral anionic site (PAS) interaction without CAS binding remains unexplored. Here, we proposed and verified the occurrence of a presumed competitive inhibition of AChE without CAS binding for hydrophobically functionalized C60 nanoparticles (NPs) by employing both experimental and computational methods. The kinetic inhibition analysis distinguished six competitive inhibitors, probably targeting the PAS, from the pristine and hydrophilically modified C60 NPs. A simple quantitative nanostructure-activity relationship (QNAR) model relating the pocket accessible length of substituent to inhibition capacity was then established to reveal how the geometry of the surface group decides the NP difference in AChE inhibition. Molecular docking identified the PAS as the potential binding site interacting with the NPs via a T-shaped plug-in mode. Specifically, the fullerene core covered the enzyme gorge as a lid through π-π stacking with Tyr72 and Trp286 in the PAS, while the hydrophobic ligands on the fullerene surface inserted into the AChE active site to provide further stability for the complexes. The modeling predicted that inhibition would be severely compromised by Tyr72 and Trp286 deletions, and the subsequent site-directed mutagenesis experiments proved this prediction. Our results demonstrate AChE competitive inhibition of NPs without CAS participation to gain further understanding of both the neurotoxicity and the curative effect of NPs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18626-18638
Number of pages13
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2017


  • acetylcholinesterase
  • C nanoparticle
  • competitive inhibition
  • molecular docking
  • peripheral anionic site
  • quantitative nanostructure-activity relationship
  • site-directed mutation

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