Life without acetylcholinesterase: The implications of cholinesterase inhibitor toxicity in AChE-knockout mice

Oksana Lockridge, Ellen G. Duysen, Troy Voelker, Charles M. Thompson, Lawrence M. Schopfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The acetylcholinesterase (AChE)-knockout mouse is a new tool for identifying physiologically relevant targets of organophosphorus toxicants (OP). If AChE were the only important target for OP toxicity, then mice with zero AChE would have been expected to be resistant to OP. The opposite was found. AChE-/- mice were more sensitive to the lethality of DFP, chlorpyrifos oxon, iso-OMPA, and the nerve agent VX. A lethal dose of OP caused the same cholinergic signs of toxicity in mice with zero AChE as in mice with normal amounts of AChE. This implied that the mechanism of toxicity of a lethal dose of OP in AChE-/- mice was the same as in mice that had AChE, namely accumulation of excess acetylcholine followed by overstimulation of receptors. OP lethality in AChE-/- mice could be due to inhibition of BChE, or to inhibition of a set of proteins. A search for additional targets used biotinylated-OP as a marker. In vitro experiments found that biotinylated-OP appeared to label as many as 55 proteins in the 100,000 × g supernatant of mouse brain. Chlorpyrifos oxon bound a set of proteins (bands 12, 41, 45) that did not completely overlap with the set of proteins bound by diazoxon (bands 9, 12, 41, 47) or dichlorvos (bands 12, 23, 24, 32, 44, 45, 51) or malaoxon (band 9). These results support the idea that a variety of proteins could be interacting with a given OP to give the neurotoxic symptoms characteristic of a particular OP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-469
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Butyrylcholinesterase
  • Chlorpyrifos oxon
  • FP-biotin
  • Knockout mouse
  • Organophosphorus agent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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