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Pii: s1367-5931(00)00130-7

Cyclooxygenase mechanisms
Lawrence J Marnett
Several advances have occurred in the past year in our polyunsaturated fatty acid autoxidation (Figure 2) [1]. The understanding of cyclooxygenase catalysis. The role of specific 13-pro(S)-hydrogen is removed and O2 traps the incipient heme oxidation states in the formation of catalytically pentadienyl radical at C-11. The 11-peroxyl radical competent tyrosyl radicals has been defined; the identity of cyclizes at C-9 and the carbon-centered radical generated physiological hydroperoxide activators has been established; at C-8 cyclizes at C-12, producing the endoperoxide. The and the participation of individual amino acids in substrate allylic radical generated is trapped by O2 at C-15 to form binding and oxygenation has been elucidated.
the 15-(S)-peroxyl radical; this radical is then reduced toPGG2. Several pieces of experimental evidence support Addresses
this mechanism: firstly, a significant kinetic isotope effect Departments of Biochemistry and Chemistry, Vanderbilt University is observed for the removal of the 13-pro(S)-hydrogen [2]; School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA; secondly, carbon-centered radicals are trapped during e-mail: marnett@toxicology.mc.vanderbilt.edu catalysis [3]; and thirdly, minor oxidation products are Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 2000, 4:545–552
formed that arise by oxygen trapping of an allylic radicalintermediate at positions 13 and 15 [4,5]. A variation of the mechanism in Figure 2 in which the 13-pro(S)-hydrogen is 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
removed as a proton and the incipient carbanion is oxi- Abbreviations
dized to a radical is theoretically possible. However, oxygenation of 10,10-difluoroarachidonic acid to 11-(S)-hydroxyeicosa-5,8,12,14-tetraenoic acid is inconsis-tent with the occurrence of a carbanion intermediate Introduction
because the latter would rapidly eliminate fluoride to form Cyclooxygenases (COXs) catalyze the committed step in a conjugated diene [6]. The absence of endoperoxide-con- the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins and taining products derived from 10,10-difluoroarachidonic thromboxane. They oxygenate arachidonic acid to the acid has been suggested to indicate the importance of a hydroperoxy endoperoxide PGG2 (prostaglandin G2), C-10 carbocation in PGG2 synthesis [7]. However, the pro- followed by reduction of PGG2 to the alcohol PGH2 posed cationic mechanism postulates that endoperoxide (Figure 1). PGH2 is converted by isomerases to formation precedes removal of the 13-pro(S)-hydrogen [7].
prostaglandins and thromboxane, which exert numerous This is inconsistent with the results of isotopic labeling physiological and pathophysiological effects. Thus, COX experiments of arachidonic acid oxygenation [2].
enzymes play a key role in the biosynthesis of a family ofimportant bioactive lipids. But it is the interesting chem- Identity of the protein oxidant
istry which they catalyze that is the focus of this review.
The oxidant that removes the 13-pro(S) hydrogen Recent advances in the mechanism of arachidonic acid oxy- appears to be a tyrosyl radical derived from Tyr385 genation, the identity of the protein oxidant, the pathway (Figure 2) [8]. This residue is interposed between the of enzyme activation, and the nature of enzyme−substrate heme prosthetic group and the cyclooxygenase active interactions will be described. Amino acid designations are site and is ideally positioned to interact with a bound given based on the COX-1 numbering system.
fatty acid molecule [9,10,11••]. Transient tyrosyl radicalsare detected during cyclooxygenase catalysis and they Mechanism of arachidonate oxygenation
oxidize arachidonic acid to carbon-centered radicals The conversion of arachidonic acid to PGG2 can be formu- [12••]. It has been difficult to assign the identity of the lated as a series of radical reactions analogous to those of tyrosyl radicals based solely on electron paramagnetic The conversion of arachidonic acid to PGH2.
COX catalyzes the oxidation of arachidonic physiological and pathophysiological effects.
R1 = CH2CH=CH(CH2)3CO2H R2 = C5H11 AH2 = Reducing substrate Mechanisms
Overall mechanism of COX activation and catalysis. A hydroperoxide Tyr385 to a tyrosyl radical (upper half of figure). The tyrosyl radical then oxidizes the heme prosthetic group to a ferryl-oxo derivative that can be oxidizes the 13-pro(S) hydrogen of arachidonic acid to initiate the reduced in the first step of the peroxidase catalytic cycle or can oxidize cyclooxygenase catalytic cycle (lower half of figure).
resonance (EPR) spectroscopy [13,14]. Multiple hyper- cyclooxygenase activity but does not eliminate radical fine splitting patterns are observed that arise from production following reaction with a hydroperoxide (see rotational isomers of tyrosyl radicals and possibly tyrosyl below) [17]. Because there are several tyrosine residues radicals derived from different amino acids [15,16•]. Site- at distances from the heme that are comparable to that of directed mutation of Tyr385 to Phe abolishes Tyr385, another tyrosine residue may be oxidized when Cyclooxygenase mechanisms Marnett 547
Tyr385 is absent. Interestingly, the Tyr385Phe mutant enzyme does not oxidize arachidonic acid to carbon-centered radicals, even though it does produce tyrosyl radicals following treatment with a hydroperoxide [12••].
The enzymatically generated tyrosyl radical has beentrapped by carrying out reactions of arachidonic acid and COX-1 in the presence of NO donors [18]. NO quenches the tyrosyl radical signals, presumably by forming a nitrosocyclohexadienone. The nitrosocyclohexadienoneis oxidized to an iminoxyl radical and ultimately to Trapping of the enzymatically generated tyrosyl radical by carrying out nitrotyrosine (Figure 3). Tryptic digestion and peptide reactions of arachidonic acid and COX-1 in the presence of NO mapping reveal the presence of a single nitrated peptide donors. NO quenches the tyrosyl radical signals, presumably by that contains a nitrotyrosine at the position in the forming a nitrosocyclohexadienone. The nitrosocyclohexadienone is sequence corresponding to Tyr385 [19••]. Formation of oxidized to an iminoxyl radical and ultimately to nitrotyrosine.
this nitrated peptide requires cyclooxygenase turnover inthe presence of NO and is blocked by the cyclooxygenaseinhibitor indomethacin.
reconstitute the peroxidase activity by providing a distalbase to facilitate proton transfer during Compound I Role of the heme
The Tyr385 tyrosyl radical is not present in resting enzymeso it must be generated in order to initiate cyclooxygenase Generation of Compound I by reaction of ferric enzyme catalysis. Reaction of fatty acid hydroperoxides or organic with hydroperoxide establishes a thermodynamically hydroperoxides with the heme prosthetic group generates favorable sequence of reactions to initiate cyclooxyge- a higher oxidation state of the heme that oxidizes Tyr385 nase catalysis. The redox potential for Compound I is (Figure 2) [20]. The higher oxidation state that oxidizes estimated to be ~1 V by comparison with the analogous Tyr385 is the ferryl-oxo complex, which is the first inter- ferryl-oxo complex of horseradish peroxidase [26].
mediate in peroxidase catalysis (Compound I) [20,21].
Reaction of Compound I with a tyrosine residue is Decay of the visible absorbance of Compound I coincides with production of the tyrosyl radical [22•].
tyrosyl radical with the doubly allylic hydrogens of apolyunsaturated fatty acid (Eo = 0.6 V) [27,28]. In con- Alterations in enzyme activity that reduce peroxidase trast, the redox potentials for the resting ferric enzymes activity introduce a lag phase in cyclooxygenase activation are −167 mV and −156 mV for COX-1 and COX-2, [23]. For example, mutations of the proximal histidine respectively, making direct oxidation of Tyr385 by ferric residue to tyrosine (His388Tyr) or the distal histidine to enzyme highly unfavorable thermodynamically alanine (His207Ala) reduce peroxidase activity by 2 to [24••,29]. The low redox potentials of COX-1 and 4 orders of magnitude and induce lag phases of 1 to 2 min- COX-2 are consistent with the observation that the rest- utes for attainment of maximal cyclooxygenase activity ing enzymes are isolated in the ferric form and do not following addition of arachidonic acid [21,24••]. This lag contain a spectroscopically detectable tyrosyl radical.
phase is eliminated by addition of exogenous hydroperox- Theoretically, it is possible that the endothermic nature ides. The ability of a hydroperoxide to eliminate the lag of the oxidation of Tyr385 by ferric enzyme is circum- phase correlates to its ability to serve as a peroxidase sub- vented by electron tunneling [30]. This may explain the strate [24••,25]. In the case of the distal histidine mutant activation of a derivative of COX-1 modified with bro- (His207Ala), the lag phase also can be eliminated by moacetamido-indomethacin, which has no detectable adding large amounts of 2-methylimidazole to chemically For the distal histidine mutant (His207Ala), thelag phase can be eliminated by adding largeamounts of 2-methylimidazole to chemicallyreconstitute the peroxidase activity. The 2- facilitate proton transfer during Compound I initiate cyclooxygenase catalysis (see Figure 2).
biosynthesis with COX activation mediated byperoxynitrite. Hollow arrows representstimulation of gene expression and enzyme NO synthase
PGH synthase
Hydroperoxide activators
superoxide dismutase mimetic agents, which prevents The activation of resting enzyme following addition of peroxynitrite formation, reduces prostaglandin biosynthe- arachidonic acid in vitro is due to the presence of trace sis by up to 85% [42]. An attractive feature of the amounts of hydroperoxide in the fatty acid preparation.
involvement of peroxynitrite as an activator of cyclooxy- Activation is completely inhibited by addition of high con- genase in inflammatory cells is the fact that both the centrations of glutathione peroxidase and glutathione, inducible form of nitric oxide synthase and COX-2 are which reduces fatty acid hydroperoxides [33–35]. Once the immediate-early genes that are induced by many of the Tyr385 radical is generated, each enzyme molecule cat- same agonists and with very similar time courses [44,45].
alyzes several hundred cycles of arachidonic acid This provides a regulated pathway for the generation of a oxygenation. Although the tyrosyl radical is reduced to tyro- hydroperoxide activator coincident with COX-2 expres- sine when it oxidizes arachidonic acid, the radical is sion (Figure 5). In fact, prostaglandin synthesis by regenerated in the last step of each catalytic cycle by oxi- activated macrophages from iNOS-knockout mice is sig- dation by the peroxyl radical precursor to PGG2. There is nificantly reduced compared with synthesis by activated occasional leakage of the peroxyl radical from the cyclooxy- macrophages isolated from wild-type mice [46•].
genase active site, which leaves the enzyme in acatalytically inactive form containing fully covalent Tyr385.
Enzymesubstrate interactions
Reactivation of cyclooxygenase activity requires reaction of Considerable attention has focused recently on the bind- the heme prosthetic group with another molecule of ing of fatty acid substrates in the cyclooxygenase active hydroperoxide. This explains the need for the continued site. The chemical mandates of the synthesis of a bicyclic presence of hydroperoxide in cyclooxygenase–arachidonic- peroxide with trans-dialkyl substitution require that the acid reactions [36]. However, by and large, the fatty acid be bound in an extended conformation with a cyclooxygenase catalytic cycle proceeds independently of sharp bend around carbons 10−13 [47]. Modeling this con- the peroxidase catalytic cycle once Tyr385 is oxidized to a formation of arachidonate into the cyclooxygenase active tyrosyl radical. This is supported by three pieces of evi- site with the carboxylate ion-paired to Arg120 and the dence: the ability to isolate PGG2 as the major product of 13-pro(S) hydrogen adjacent to Tyr385 places the ω-end of arachidonic acid oxygenation [37,38]; detailed kinetic the fatty acid in a hydrophobic pocket near the top of the analyses consistent with independent turnover of the per- active site (Figure 6; [48••]). A conserved glycine residue oxidase and cyclooxygenase activities after activation [39]; (Gly533) is located close to the end of the fatty acid.
and the ability of site-directed mutants with low peroxidase Mutation of Gly533 to Ala reduces cyclooxygenase activity activity to achieve near wild-type cyclooxygenase activity with arachidonate as substrate by 85% and mutation to Val once the lag phase is eliminated [24••].
completely eliminates activity. However, both mutantsexhibit undiminished cyclooxygenase activity toward The identity of the ‘physiological’ hydroperoxide activa- unsaturated fatty acids containing fewer carbons at their tor is uncertain, but several possibilities exist. Several ω-end (e.g. α-linolenic acid, stearidonic acid; [48••]).
different fatty acid hydroperoxides react with COX togenerate Compound I, so lipid hydroperoxides are likely Confirmation of the importance of the top channel in activators [40,41•]. Peroxynitrite, the coupling product of substrate binding is provided by crystal structures of com- NO and superoxide anion, is also an efficient substrate for plexes of arachidonate bound to COX-1 reconstituted the peroxidase of both COX-1 and COX-2 [42]. It acti- with Co3+–heme (W Smith, personal communication) and vates the cyclooxygenase activity of either enzyme in the of PGH2 bound to apoCOX-2 [11••]. In addition, exami- presence of very high concentrations of glutathione per- nation of these structures reveals numerous oxidase and glutathione, and activates COX-1 in intact protein–fatty-acid interactions, suggesting an active role smooth muscle cells [43]. Treatment of lipopolysaccha- for the protein in controlling the regiochemistry and ride-activated macrophages with membrane-permeant stereochemistry of arachidonate oxygenation. Of particular Cyclooxygenase mechanisms Marnett 549
importance is the region around Tyr385 and Trp387. As stated above, the tyrosyl radical derivative of Tyr385 oxi-dizes the 13-pro(S) hydrogen of arachidonate and, asexpected, it is positioned close to C-13 in both structures.
In addition, Trp387 is close to the endoperoxide group inthe COX-2–PGH2 crystal structure, suggesting that itmay restrict the conformation of the 11-peroxyl radical tofacilitate cyclization at C-9 [11••]. Indeed, mutation of Trp387 to Phe or Tyr does not abolish oxygenase activitybut reduces the yield of PGH2 20-fold [11••,49].
Crystallography and site-directed mutagenesis also suggestthat the protein controls the stereochemistry of O2 addi-tion to radicals at C-11 and C-15 by steric hindrance ([11••,50]; W Smith, personal communication).
An alternate arachidonate-binding mode is observed in a complex with the His207Ala mutant of COX-2 [11••]. The carboxylate of arachidonate is hydrogen-bonded to Tyr385 and Ser530 and the ω-end projects toward the constriction at Arg120, Tyr355, and Glu524 before bending up towardLeu531. This conformation is inconsistent with catalysisbut may correspond to an inhibitory conformation of substrate bound to enzyme.
The cyclooxygenase active sites of COX-1 and COX-2 are very similar but there are subtle structural differences thatgive rise to functional differences between the two pro- Model of arachidonic acid (black) bound to the active site of COX-1 teins. For example, aspirin acetylation of Ser530 of COX-1 (gray). Arg120, Tyr355 and Glu524 comprise the constriction thatseparates the bottom of the COX active site from the lobby in which completely inhibits oxygenation of arachidonate by steri- arachidonate first binds. The constriction must open to permit cally blocking access to the top channel [51]. Aspirin arachidonate access to the COX active site. Tyr385 sits adjacent to acetylation of the corresponding residue in COX-2 abol- the 13-pro(S) hydrogen of arachidonic acid and Trp387 facilitates cyclization of the 11-peroxyl radical to form the cyclic peroxide.
Ser530 is the aspirin acetylation site and Gly533 is located near the 15-(R)-hydroxyeicosa-5,8,11,13-tetraenoic acid [52]. The greater size of the cyclooxygenase active site in COX-2apparently allows insertion of arachidonate into the topchannel with an altered conformation of both the carboxyl Conclusions
and ω-ends of the molecule; this leads to reversal in the Recent work from several laboratories has provided stereochemistry of oxygenation at C-15 [53•,54••].
important insights into the oxygenation of arachidonicacid by cyclooxygenases. These findings strongly support A more fundamental difference between COX-1 and the chemical mechanism of prostaglandin endoperoxide COX-2 is in the binding of the carboxylate group of the biosynthesis proposed over 30 years ago by Hamberg and fatty acid substrate. The COX-1–arachidonate and Samuelsson [2] and the biochemical mechanism of COX-2–PGH2 crystal structures reveal ionic and hydrogen- cyclooxygenase catalysis proposed 12 years ago by Ruf bonding interactions with Arg120 and Tyr355, which are and co-workers [8]. Reaching this level of understanding located at a constriction point near the bottom of the has been experimentally challenging because of the cyclooxygenase active site and the top of the membrane- short-lived nature of the substrate and enzyme-derived binding domains of both proteins ([11••]; W Smith, intermediates, the complex interaction between the personal communication). As expected, mutations of cyclooxygenase and peroxidase activities, and the Arg120 of COX-1 significantly affect cyclooxygenase activ- unusual kinetics of oxygenation that are complicated by ity [55,56]. However, Arg120 mutations in COX-2 are much less deleterious to its cyclooxygenase activity [57,58•]. Thissuggests that other interactions in the cyclooxygenase We have begun to glimpse views of enzyme−substrate active site are more important for binding arachidonate in interactions that reveal the identity and role of residues COX-2 than in COX-1. As a corollary, the carboxylate of that control regiochemistry and stereochemistry of oxy- arachidonate is not as important for its binding to COX-2 as genation. Furthermore, we are beginning to appreciate it is to COX-1. In support of this hypothesis, COX-2 oxy- the subtle differences in structure between COX-1 and genates the ethanolamide derivative of arachidonic acid COX-2 that confer distinct substrate specificity and cat- (anandamide) to the ethanolamide derivative of PGH alytic function. The next few years should witness a Mechanisms
more precise definition of enzyme–fatty-acid interac- 12. Tsai A-L, Palmer G, Xiao G, Swinney DC, Kulmacz RJ: Structural
characterization of arachidonyl radicals formed by
tions for both enzymes. Because COX-2 oxygenates prostaglandin H synthase-2 and prostaglandin H synthase-1
amide derivatives of arachidonic acid, it may be possible reconstituted with mangano protoporphyrin IX. J Biol Chem
1998, 273:3888-3894.
to prepare fluorescent substrate analogs that enable real- This paper follows earlier work from the same group demonstrating the time monitoring of substrate binding and product release ability of tyrosyl radicals generated by oxidation of wild-type or man- [60]. This should provide a convenient approach for ganese-substituted COX-2 to oxidize arachidonic acid to carbon-centeredradical derivatives. Tyrosyl radicals generated by oxidation of the probing the involvement of individual residues in catal- Tyr385Phe mutant of COX-2 do not react with arachidonic acid to form ysis by both enzymes. Given the roles that COX carbon-centered radicals, providing strong evidence for the identity of thetyrosyl radical generated from wild-type enzyme as derived of Tyr385.
enzymes play in lipid mediator biosynthesis, it is likely 13. Lassmann G, Odenwaller R, Curtis JF, Degray JA, Mason RP, that these structural and functional differences will lead Marnett LJ, Eling TE: Electron spin resonance investigation of
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laboratory has been supported by a research grant from the National from prostaglandin H synthase. J Biol Chem 1992,
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Now in press
The work referred to in the text as ‘W Smith, personal communication’ is now
Greig GM, Francis DA, Falgueyret JP, Ouellet M, Percival MD, Roy P, Bayly C, Mancini JA, O’Neill GP: The interaction of arginine 106 of
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types aggregate in QTL regions, combined withas an iv bolus to determine the contribution of nitric14. E. S. Lander et al. , Genomics 1 , 174 (1987). physiological profiling, provides a novel ap-oxide to basal renal vascular tone. After 10 min of15. J. Loscalzo, G. Welch, Progr. Cardiovasc. Dis. 38 , 87 equilibration, a repeat infusion of the same two doses ofproach to facilitate the


The Research Literature: Academic MonitoringBrophy and Good (1986) made the following observation on the importance and complexity Elitist critics often undervalue teaching, or even suggest that anyone can teach. ("Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.") The data reviewed here refute this myth well. Although it may be true that most adults could survive in the classroom, it is not

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