Author(s): Furlong CE, Richter RJ, Seidel SL, Motulsky AG
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Abstract Plasma paraoxonase is a polymorphic enzyme that hydrolyzes paraoxon, the neurotoxic, active metabolite of the insecticide parathion. This enzyme is specified by at least two alleles with frequencies of about .7 and .3 among Caucasoid populations. A specific assay was developed that measured the activity of human plasma paraoxonase without interference from serum albumin which contributes significantly to the hydrolytic breakdown of paraoxon at the high pH values used in many previous assays. There was an 11-fold variation in paraoxonase activities, and the population distribution was at least bimodal. However, this specific assay did not improve the discrimination between the three genetic classes: (1) homozygotes for the low-activity allele, (2) heterozygotes, and (3) homozygotes for the high-activity allele. Chlorpyrifos oxon--the neurotoxic metabolite of the organophosphorus insecticide chlorpyrifos (Dursban)--was hydrolyzed by the same plasma fraction that hydrolyzed paraoxon. There was only four- to fivefold variability in enzyme activity, and the population distribution was unimodal. Homozygotes for low paraoxonase activity ranged over almost the entire spectrum of chlorpyrifos oxonase activity. Possible differences in susceptibility to chlorpyrifos toxicity therefore are unlikely to be predicted by the paraoxonase genotype alone. The ratio of paraoxonase over that of chlorpyrifos oxonase provided an excellent method for genetic typing of the paraoxonase polymorphism, as did the substitution of phenylacetate for chlorpyrifos as the substrate.
This article was published in Am J Hum Genet
and referenced in Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access