Partnering between monomers of cyclooxygenase-2 homodimers

Chong Yuan, Caroline Jill Rieke, Gilad Rimon, Byron A. Wingerd, William L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Prostaglandin endoperoxide H syntheses (PGHSs) 1 and 2 convert arachidonic acid to prostaglandin H2 in the committed step of prostanoid biosynthesis. These enzymes are pharmacological targets of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and cyclooxygenase (COX) 2 inhibitors. Although PGHSs function as homodimers and each monomer has its own COX and peroxidase active sites, the question of whether there is cross-talk between monomers has remained unresolved. Here we describe two heterodimers in which a native subunit of human PGHS-2 has been coupled to a subunit having a defect within the COX active site at some distance from the dimer interface. Native/G533A PGHS-2, a heterodimer with a COX-inactive subunit, had the same specific COX activity as the native homodimer. Native/R120Q PGHS-2, a heterodimer in which both subunits can oxygenate arachidonic acid but in which the R120Q subunit cannot bind the COX inhibitor flurbiprofen, was inhibited by flurbiprofen to about the same extent as native PGHS-2. These results imply that native PGHS-2 exhibits half-of-sites reactivity. Isothermal titration calorimetry established that only one monomer of the native PGHS-2 homodimer binds flurbiprofen tightly. In short, binding of ligand to the COX site of one monomer alters its companion monomer so that it is unable to bind substrate or inhibitor. We conclude that PGHS monomers comprising a dimer, although identical in the resting enzyme, differ from one another during catalysis. The nonfunctioning subunit may provide structural support enabling its partner monomer to catalyze the COX reaction. This subunit complementarity may prove to be characteristic of other dimeric enzymes having tightly associated monomers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6142-6147
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - 18 Apr 2006


  • Aspirin
  • Flurbiprofen
  • Heme ibuprofen
  • Prostaglandin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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