Acetylcholinesterase is responsible for cleaving the excess neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, from synapses. As your students unfold the Acetylcholinesterase Active Site Cube© they will see how tightly amino acids are packed in a protein. They will also discover how 3 amino acids in the active site bind the substrate (acetylcholine) and collaborate to cleave the neurotransmitter. The acetylcholinesterase gene and the protein it encodes can be used to demonstrate a number of biological concepts including:
- Enzyme specificity
- Competitive inhibition
- Effect of mutations on protein structure
- How natural selection results in the emergence of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes from a wild population
The substrate, insecticide and mutant amino acid side chain bind to the enzyme with magnets.
The 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to Sir Henry Hallett Dale and Otto Loewi "for their discoveries relating to chemical transmission of nerve impulses". Sir Henry Hallett Dale discovered that acetylcholine is produced naturally in the body. By developing methods for extracting acetylcholine from animal tissues Dale and his colleagues carried out a series of experiments that revealed how the chemical works.
The 5” model comes with acetylcholine, insecticide and a mutant side chain, which bind to the enzyme with magnets. It is made of plaster by rapid prototyping and should be handled with care. Models will break if dropped, held tightly or handled roughly. Its PDB file is 1QON.pdb.