Substrate Analogues for the Enzyme-Catalyzed Detoxification of the Organophosphate Nerve Agents—Sarin, Soman, and Cyclosarin Academic Article uri icon


  • The G-type nerve agents, sarin (GB), soman (GD), and cyclosarin (GF), are among the most toxic compounds known. Much progress has been made in evolving the enzyme phosphotriesterase (PTE) from Pseudomonas diminuta for the decontamination of the G-agents; however, the extreme toxicity of the G-agents makes the use of substrate analogues necessary. Typical analogues utilize a chromogenic leaving group to facilitate high-throughput screening, and substitution of an O-methyl for the P-methyl group found in the G-agents, in an effort to reduce toxicity. Till date, there has been no systematic evaluation of the effects of these substitutions on catalytic activity, and the presumed reduction in toxicity has not been tested. A series of 21 G-agent analogues, including all combinations of O-methyl, p-nitrophenyl, and thiophosphate substitutions, have been synthesized and evaluated for their ability to unveil the stereoselectivity and catalytic activity of PTE variants against the authentic G-type nerve agents. The potential toxicity of these analogues was evaluated by measuring the rate of inactivation of acetylcholinesterase (AChE). All of the substitutions reduced inactivation of AChE by more than 100-fold, with the most effective being the thiophosphate analogues, which reduced the rate of inactivation by about 4-5 orders of magnitude. The analogues were found to reliably predict changes in catalytic activity and stereoselectivity of the PTE variants and led to the identification of the BHR-30 variant, which has no apparent stereoselectivity against GD and a kcat/Km of 1.4 × 106, making it the most efficient enzyme for GD decontamination reported till date.

published proceedings

  • Biochemistry

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Bigley, A. N., Harvey, S. P., Narindoshvili, T., & Raushel, F. M.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Bigley, Andrew N||Harvey, Steven P||Narindoshvili, Tamari||Raushel, Frank M

publication date

  • September 2021