Mass spectrometry identifies covalent binding of soman, sarin, chlorpyrifos oxon, diisopropyl fluorophosphate, and FP-biotin to tyrosines on tubulin: A potential mechanism of long term toxicity by organophosphorus agents

Hasmik Grigoryan, Lawrence M. Schopfer, Charles M. Thompson, Alvin V. Terry, Patrick Masson, Oksana Lockridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Chronic low dose exposure to organophosphorus poisons (OP) results in cognitive impairment. Studies in rats have shown that OP interfere with microtubule polymerization. Since microtubules are required for transport of nutrients from the nerve cell body to the nerve synapse, it has been suggested that disruption of microtubule function could explain the learning and memory deficits associated with OP exposure. Tubulin is a major constituent of microtubules. We tested the hypothesis that OP bind to tubulin by treating purified bovine tubulin with sarin, soman, chlorpyrifos oxon, diisopropylfluorophosphate, and 10-fluoroethoxyphosphinyl-N-biotinamidopentyldecanamide (FP-biotin). Tryptic peptides were isolated and analyzed by mass spectrometry. It was found that OP bound to tyrosine 83 of alpha tubulin in peptide TGTYR, tyrosine 59 in beta tubulin peptide YVPR, tyrosine 281 in beta tubulin peptide GSQQYR, and tyrosine 159 in beta tubulin peptide EEYPDR. The OP reactive tyrosines are located either near the GTP binding site or within loops that interact laterally with protofilaments. It is concluded that OP bind covalently to tubulin, and that this binding could explain cognitive impairment associated with OP exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-186
Number of pages7
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Sep 25 2008



  • Mass spectrometer
  • Nerve agent
  • Organophosphate
  • Tubulin
  • Tyrosine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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