Several organophosphorus insecticides and nerve agents are detoxified through the cytochrome P450/paraoxonase (PON1) pathway. PON1 is an HDL-associated enzyme encoded as a 355 amino acid protein in humans. The PON1 Arg192 isoform hydrolyzes paraoxon rapidly while the Gln192 isoform hydrolyzes this compound slowly. Both isoforms hydrolyze phenylacetate and chlorpyrifos oxon at approximately the same rate. We recently found that the effect of this polymorphism is dramatically reversed for sarin hydrolysis. The PON1 Arg192 isoform has virtually no sarinase activity while the Gln192 isoform has substantial activity. The Gln192 isoform also hydrolyzes diazoxon and soman faster than the Arg192 isoform. In addition to the large differences in rates of hydrolysis observed for some OP substrates by the two PON1 isoforms, there is also a large variability in serum PON1 concentrations that is stable over time between individuals. Thus, two factors govern the PON1 status of a given individual, the PON1 genotype as well as the amount of protein expressed from each allele. A two-dimensional enzyme analysis provides an excellent assessment of an individual's PON1 status, ie. the position 192 genotype as well as phenotype, or level of serum PON1 (Nature Genet 14:334-336). Do these interindividual differences in rates of substrate hydrolysis by PON1 reflect an individual's sensitivity or resistance to OP compounds processed through the P450/PON1 pathway? Injection of purified PON1 into mice clearly demonstrates the protective effect of having high serum levels of PON1 against toxicity by chlorpyrifos oxon or chlorpyrifos. Preliminary experiments with PON1 knockout mice, on the other hand, clearly demonstrate that low PON1 levels result in dramatically increased sensitivity to chlorpyrifos oxon. Attempts to express human PON1 in mice from constructs containing either of the human PON1 cDNA sequences were unsuccessful, despite the generation of the respective transgenic mice.
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