Enzyme Inhibitors

Enzyme inhibitors are molecules that bind to enzymes and decrease their activity. Since blocking an enzyme's activity can kill a pathogen or correct a metabolic imbalance, many drugs are enzyme inhibitors. They are also used as herbicides and pesticides. Not all molecules that bind to enzymes are inhibitors; enzyme activators bind to enzymes and increase their enzymatic activity.
The binding of an inhibitor can stop a substrate from entering the enzyme's active site and/or hinder the enzyme from catalysing its reaction. Inhibitor binding is either reversible or irreversible. Irreversible inhibitors usually react with the enzyme and change it chemically. These inhibitors modify key amino acid residues needed for enzymatic activity. In contrast, reversible inhibitors bind non-covalently and different types of inhibition are produced depending on whether these inhibitors bind the enzyme, the enzyme-substrate complex, or both.


Many drug molecules are enzyme inhibitors, so their discovery and improvement is an active area of research in biochemistry and pharmacology. A medicinal enzyme inhibitor is often judged by its specificity (its lack of binding to other proteins) and its potency (its dissociation constant, which indicates the concentration needed to inhibit the enzyme). A high specificity and potency ensure that a drug will have few side effects and thus low toxicity.

Enzyme inhibitors also occur naturally and are involved in the regulation of metabolism. For example, enzymes in a metabolic pathway can be inhibited by downstream products. This type of negative feedback slows flux through a pathway when the products begin to build up and is an important way to maintain homeostasis in a cell. Other cellular enzyme inhibitors are proteins that specifically bind to and inhibit an enzyme target. This can help control enzymes that may be damaging to a cell, such as proteases or nucleases; a well-characterised example is the ribonuclease inhibitor, which binds to ribonucleases in one of the tightest known protein–protein interactions.Natural enzyme inhibitors can also be poisons and are used as defenses against predators or as ways of killing prey.


Reversible inhibitors

Types of reversible inhibitor

Reversible inhibitors bind to enzymes with non-covalent interactions such as hydrogen bonds, hydrophobic interactions and ionic bonds. Multiple weak bonds between the inhibitor and the active site combine to produce strong and specific binding. In contrast to substrates and irreversible inhibitors, reversible inhibitors generally do not undergo chemical reactions when bound to the enzyme and can be easily removed by dilution or dialysis.

There are four kinds of reversible enzyme inhibitors. They are classified according to the effect of varying the concentration of the enzyme's substrate on the inhibitor.

* In competitive inhibition, the substrate and inhibitor cannot bind to the enzyme at the same time, as shown in the figure on the left. This usually results from the inhibitor having an affinity for the active site of an enzyme where the substrate also binds; the substrate and inhibitor compete for access to the enzyme's active site. This type of inhibition can be overcome by sufficiently high concentrations of substrate, i.e., by out-competing the inhibitor. Competitive inhibitors are often similar in structure to the real substrate .

* In uncompetitive inhibition, the inhibitor binds only to the substrate-enzyme complex, it should not be confused with non-competative inhibitors. Both maximum velocity (Vmax) and binding efficiency (Km) decrease.

* In mixed inhibition, the inhibitor can bind to the enzyme at the same time as the enzyme's substrate. However, the binding of the inhibitor affects the binding of the substrate, and vice versa. This type of inhibition can be reduced, but not overcome by increasing concentrations of substrate. Although it is possible for mixed-type inhibitors to bind in the active site, this type of inhibition generally results from an allosteric effect where the inhibitor binds to a different site on an enzyme. Inhibitor binding to this allosteric site changes the conformation (i.e., tertiary structure or three-dimensional shape) of the enzyme so that the affinity of the substrate for the active site is reduced.

* Non-competitive inhibition is a form of mixed inhibition where the binding of the inhibitor to the enzyme reduces its activity but does not affect the binding of substrate. As a result, the extent of inhibition depends only on the concentration of the inhibitor.


Types of irreversible inhibition
Irreversible inhibitors usually covalently modify an enzyme, and inhibition cannot therefore be reversed. Irreversible inhibitors often contain reactive functional groups such as nitrogen mustards, aldehydes, haloalkanes, alkenes, Michael acceptors, phenyl sulphonates, or fluorophosphonates. These electrophilic groups react with amino acid side chains to form covalent adducts. The residues modified are those with side chains containing nucleophiles such as hydroxyl or sulfhydryl groups; these include the amino acids serine (as in DFP, right), cysteine, threonine or tyrosine.

Irreversible inhibition is different from irreversible enzyme inactivation. Irreversible inhibitors are generally specific for one class of enzyme and do not inactivate all proteins; they do not function by destroying protein structure but by specifically altering the active site of their target. For example, extremes of pH or temperature usually cause denaturation of all protein structure, but this is a non-specific effect. Similarly, some non-specific chemical treatments destroy protein structure: for example, heating in concentrated hydrochloric acid will hydrolyse the peptide bonds holding proteins together, releasing free amino acids.

Irreversible inhibitors display time-dependent inhibition and their potency therefore cannot be characterized by an IC50 value. This is because the amount of active enzyme at a given concentration of irreversible inhibitor will be different depending on how long the inhibitor is pre-incubated with the enzyme. Instead, kobs/[I] values are used,wherekobs is the observed pseudo-first order rate of inactivation (obtained by plotting the log of % activity vs. time) and [I] is the concentration of inhibitor. The kobs/[I] parameter is valid as long as the inhibitor does not saturate binding with the enzyme (in which case kobs = kinact).

Enzyme inhibitor. (2009, February 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:24, March 5, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Enzyme_inhibitor&oldid=273251052

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