The subcutaneous and systemic injection of serotonin reduces cutaneous and visceral pain thresholds and increases responses to noxious stimuli. Different subtypes of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors are suggested to be associated with different types of pain responses. Here we show that serotonin also inhibits catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT), an enzyme that contributes to modultion the perception of pain, via non-competitive binding to the site bound by catechol substrates with a binding affinity comparable to the binding affinity of catechol itself (Ki = 44 μM). Using computational modeling, biochemical tests and cellular assays we show that serotonin actively competes with the methyl donor S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) within the catalytic site. Binding of serotonin to the catalytic site inhibits the access of SAM, thus preventing methylation of COMT substrates. The results of in vivo animal studies show that serotonin-induced pain hypersensitivity in mice is reduced by either SAM pretreatment or by the combined administration of selective antagonists for β2- and β3-adrenergic receptors, which have been previously shown to mediate COMT-dependent pain signaling. Our results suggest that inhibition of COMT via serotonin binding contributes to pain hypersensitivity, providing additional strategies for the treatment of clinical pain conditions.
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) degrades catecholamines, such as dopamine and epinephrine, by methylating them in the presence of a divalent metal cation (usually Mg(II)), and S-adenosyl-L-methionine. The enzymatic activity of COMT is known to be vitally dependent on the nature of the bound metal: replacement of Mg(II) with Ca(II) leads to a complete deactivation of COMT; Fe(II) is slightly less than potent Mg(II), and Fe(III) is again an inhibitor. Considering the fairly modest role that the metal plays in the catalyzed reaction, this dependence is puzzling, and to date remains an enigma. Using a quantum mechanical / molecular mechanical dynamics method for extensive sampling of protein structure, and first principle quantum mechanical calculations for the subsequent mechanistic study, we explicate the effect of metal substitution on the rate determining step in the catalytic cycle of COMT, the methyl transfer. In full accord with experimental data, Mg(II) bound to COMT is the most potent of the studied cations and it is closely followed by Fe(II), whereas Fe(III) is unable to promote catalysis. In the case of Ca(II), a repacking of the protein binding site is observed, leading to a significant increase in the activation barrier and higher energy of reaction. Importantly, the origin of the effect of metal substitution is different for different metals: for Fe(III) it is the electronic effect, whereas in the case of Ca(II) it is instead the effect of suboptimal protein structure.
Catechol estrogens are carcinogenic, probably because of their estrogenicity and potential for further oxidative metabolism to reactive quinones. Estrogenic quinones cause oxidative DNA damage as well as form mutagenic depurinating adenine and guanine adducts. O-Methylation by catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) blocks their estrogenicity and prevents their oxidation to quinones. A single gene encodes both membrane bound (MB) and soluble (S) forms of COMT. The COMT gene contains 34 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The valine108 (S-COMT)/158 (MB-COMT) SNP encodes a low activity form of COMT and has been widely studied as a putative risk factor for breast cancer, with inconsistent results. Investigations of two other SNPs in the promoter of MB-COMT that may affect its expression have also provided mixed results. Future studies on the role of COMT in breast cancer should incorporate measurement of biomarkers that reflect COMT activity and its protective effects.
Women with homozygous polymorphic alleles of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT-LL) metabolize 2-hydroxylated estradiol, a suspected anticarcinogenic metabolite of estrogen, at a four-fold lower rate than women with no polymorphic alleles (COMT-HH) or heterozygous women (COMT-HL). We hypothesized that COMT-LL women exposed actively or passively to tobacco smoke would have higher exposure to 2-hydroxylated estradiol than never-active/never passive exposed women, and should therefore have a lower risk of breast cancer than women exposed to tobacco smoke or with higher COMT activity.
We used a case-only design to evaluate departure from multiplicative interaction between COMT genotype and smoking status. We identified 502 cases of invasive incident breast cancer and characterized COMT genotype. Information on tobacco use and other potential breast cancer risk factors were obtained by structured interviews.
We observed moderate departure from multiplicative interaction for COMT-HL genotype and history of ever-active smoking (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.6, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.7, 3.8) and more pronounced departure for women who smoked 40 or more years (aOR = 2.3, 95% CI: 0.8, 7.0). We observed considerable departure from multiplicative interaction for COMT-HL genotype and history of ever-passive smoking (aOR = 2.0, 95% CI: 0.8, 5.2) or for having lived with a smoker after age 20 (aOR = 2.8, 95% CI: 0.8, 10).
With greater control over potential misclassification errors and a large case-only population, we found evidence to support an interaction between COMT genotype and tobacco smoke exposure in breast cancer etiology.
Purpose: Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inactivates the estradiol metabolites, 2-hydroxy and 4-hydroxy catechols, which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of endometriosis. A COMT valine to methionine polymorphism (G-to-A) in exon 4 of the COMT gene is polymorphic in the human population, with 25% of Caucasians being homozygous for the low-activity allele (COMT-L) of the enzyme. In a case-control study we investigated whether this COMT polymorphism is associated with endometriosis.
Methods: Polymerase chain reaction was performed to analyze the COMT genotype among women with surgically and histologically confirmed endometriosis (study group; n = 91) and in women without evidence of endometriosis confirmed by laparoscopy or laparotomy (control group; n = 92).
Results: Allele frequencies for the low-activity allele (COMT-L) among women with endometriosis and controls were 0.50 and 0.50, respectively (p = 0.999; odds ratio = 1.0, 95% CI: 0.66–1.51).
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the valine to methionine polymorphism in exon 4 of the COMT gene is not associated with the risk of endometriosis compared to a surgical control population.
Endometriosis; COMT; polymorphism; catecholestrogens; Caucasian population
Human catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) catalyzes a methyl transfer from S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) to dopamine. Site-specific mutants at three positions (Tyr68, Trp38, and Val108) have been characterized with regard to product distribution, catalytic efficiency and secondary kinetic isotope effects. The series of mutations at Tyr68 within wild-type protein and the common polymorphic variant (Val108Met) yields a linear correlation between the catalytic efficiency and the size of the secondary kinetic isotope effect. We conclude that active site compaction in COMT is modulated by a proximal side chain residing behind the sulfur-bearing methyl group of AdoMet. These findings are discussed in the context of the active site compression that has been postulated to accompany enzyme-supported hydrogen tunneling.
COMT; methyl transfer; active site compaction; catalysis mechanism
In plants, type I and II S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent O-methyltransferases (OMTs) catalyze most hydroxyl group methylations of small molecules. A homology-based RT-PCR strategy using Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) RNA previously identified six new type I plant OMT family members. We now describe the molecular and biochemical characterization of a seventh protein. It shares 56–58% identity with caffeic acid OMTs (COMTs), but it failed to methylate COMT substrates, and had no activity with flavonoids. However, the in vitro incubations revealed unusually high background levels without added substrates. A search for the responsible component revealed that the enzyme methylated dithiothreitol (DTT), the reducing agent added for enzyme stabilization. Unexpectedly, product analysis revealed that the methylation occurred on a sulfhydryl moiety, not on a hydroxyl group. Analysis of 34 compounds indicated a broad substrate range, with a preference for small hydrophobic molecules. Benzene thiol (Km 220 μM) and furfuryl thiol (Km 60 μM) were the best substrates (6–7-fold better than DTT). Small isosteric hydrophobic substrates with hydroxyl groups, like phenol and guaiacol, were also methylated, but the activities were at least 5-fold lower than with thiols. The enzyme was named C. roseus S-methyltransferase 1 (CrSMT1). Models based on the COMT crystal structure suggest that S-methylation is mechanistically identical to O-methylation. CrSMT1 so far is the only recognized example of an S-methyltransferase in this protein family. Its properties indicate that a few changes in key residues are sufficient to convert an OMT into a S-methyltransferase (SMT). Future functional investigations of plant methyltransferases should consider the possibility that the enzymes may direct methylation at sulfhydryl groups.
Catharanthus roseus; S-methyltransferase; O-methyltransferase; evolution; protein modeling; homology-based cDNA cloning
Catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) is involved in the inactivation of dopamine in brain regions in which the dopamine transporter (DAT1) is sparsely expressed. The membrane-bound isoform of COMT (MB-COMT) is the predominantly expressed form in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). It has been a matter of debate whether in neural cells of the CNS the enzymatic domain of MB-COMT is oriented toward the cytoplasmic or the extracellular compartment. Here we used live immunocytochemistry on cultured neocortical neurons and glial cells to investigate the expression and membrane orientation of native COMT and of transfected MB-COMT fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP). After live staining, COMT immunoreactivity was reliably detected in both neurons and glial cells after permeabilization, but not on unpermeabilized cells. Similarly, autofluorescence of COMT-GFP fusion protein and antibody fluorescence showed overlap only in permeabilized neurons. Our data provide converging evidence for an intracellular membrane orientation of MB-COMT in neurons and glial cells, suggesting the presence of a DAT1-independent postsynaptic uptake mechanism for dopamine, prior to its degradation via COMT.
catechol-O-methyl transferase; membrane; neuronal cell culture; immunocytochemistry; dopamine
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is an ubiquitously expressed enzyme that maintains basic biologic functions by inactivating catechol substrates. In humans, polymorphic variance at the COMT locus has been associated with modulation of pain sensitivity (Andersen & Skorpen, 2009) and risk for developing psychiatric disorders (Harrison & Tunbridge, 2008). A functional haplotype associated with increased pain sensitivity was shown to result in decreased COMT activity by altering mRNA secondary structure-dependent protein translation (Nackley et al., 2006). However, the exact mechanisms whereby COMT modulates pain sensitivity and behavior remain unclear and can be further studied in animal models. We have assessed Comt1 gene expression levels in multiple brain regions in inbred strains of mice and have discovered that Comt1 is differentially expressed among the strains, and this differential expression is cis-regulated. A B2 Short Interspersed Element (SINE) was inserted in the 3′UTR of Comt1 in 14 strains generating a common haplotype that correlates with gene expression. Experiments using mammalian expression vectors of full-length cDNA clones with and without the SINE element demonstrate that strains with the SINE haplotype (+SINE) have greater Comt1 enzymatic activity. +SINE mice also exhibit behavioral differences in anxiety assays and decreased pain sensitivity. These results suggest that a haplotype, defined by a 3′ UTR B2 SINE element, regulates Comt1 expression and some mouse behaviors.
The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme is critical for the catabolic regulation of synaptic dopamine, resulting in altered cortical functioning. The COMT Val158Met polymorphism has been implicated in human mental illness, with Met/Met homozygotes associated with increased susceptibility to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our primary objective was to examine the intermediate phenotype of fear inhibition in PTSD stratified by COMT genotype (Met/Met, Val/Met, and Val/Val) and differential gene regulation via methylation status at CpG sites in the COMT promoter region. More specifically, we examined the potential interaction of COMT genotype and PTSD diagnosis on fear-potentiated startle during fear conditioning and extinction and COMT DNA methylation levels (as determined using genomic DNA isolated from whole blood). Participants were recruited from medical and gynecological clinics of an urban hospital in Atlanta, GA, USA. We found that individuals with the Met/Met genotype demonstrated higher fear-potentiated startle to the CS− (safety signal) and during extinction of the CS+ (danger signal) compared to Val/Met and Val/Val genotypes. The PTSD+ Met/Met genotype group had the greatest impairment in fear inhibition to the CS− (p = 0.006), compared to Val carriers. In addition, the Met/Met genotype was associated with DNA methylation at four CpG sites, two of which were associated with impaired fear inhibition to the safety signal. These results suggest that multiple differential mechanisms for regulating COMT function – at the level of protein structure via the Val158Met genotype and at the level of gene regulation via differential methylation – are associated with impaired fear inhibition in PTSD.
catechol-O-methyltransferase; fear-potentiated startle; posttraumatic stress disorder; epigenetic; methylation; trauma
Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world and has been studied extensively as a health-promoting beverage that may act to prevent a number of chronic diseases and cancers. (-)-Epigallocatechin gallate [(-)-EGCG], a major component in green tea, is unstable under physiological conditions and methylation of (-)-EGCG by catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a modification that reduces the biological activity of (-)-EGCG. In the current study, we hypothesized that suppression of COMT activity in human breast cancer cells could increase the proteasome-inhibitory potency of (-)-EGCG and therefore enhance its tumor cell growth-inhibitory activity. We first determined the COMT genotype and basal levels of COMT activity in various human breast cancer cell lines. Furthermore, when breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells containing high COMT activity were tested, the diminished COMT activity apparently increased the effectiveness of (-)-EGCG via augmented proteasome inhibition and apoptosis induction. This study supplements the previous findings that methylated (-)-EGCG is less bioactive and supports the notion that COMT inhibition may increase the anti-cancer properties of tea polyphenols and the combination may serve as a novel approach or supplemental treatment for breast cancer chemotherapy.
epigallocatechin gallate; catechol-O-methyltransferase; proteasome inhibition; apoptosis; breast cancer
To establish the zebrafish as a model for investigating the methylation pathway of drug metabolism, we embarked on the molecular cloning of the zebrafish catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT). By searching the GenBank database, a zebrafish nucleotide sequence encoding a putative COMT was identified. Based on the sequence information, we designed and synthesized oligonucleotides corresponding to its 5’- and 3’-coding regions of this zebrafish COMT. Using the first-strand cDNA reverse-transcribed from the total RNA isolated from a 3-month-old adult female zebrafish as the template, the cDNA encoding the zebrafish COMT was PCR-amplified. The recombinant zebrafish COMT protein was subsequently expressed in and purified from BL21 (DE3) Escherichia coli cells transformed with the pGEX-2TK expression vector harboring the zebrafish COMT cDNA. Upon enzymatic characterization, purified COMT displayed methylating activity toward dopamine, dopa, and catecholestrogens, as well as three representative catechol drugs, methyldopa, dobutamine, and isoproterenol. A reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed developmental stage-dependent expression of the zebrafish COMT during embryonic development and throughout the larval stage onto maturity. These results provide a foundation for investigating the involvement of COMT-mediated methylation in protection against the adverse effects of catechol drugs and other xenobiotic catechols during the developmental process.
Catechol O-methyltransferase; developmental expression; methylation; molecular cloning; zebrafish
The pathways for degradation of aromatic hydrocarbons are constantly modified by a variety of genetic mechanisms. Genetic studies carried out with Pseudomonas stutzeri OX1 suggested that the tou operon coding for toluene o-xylene monooxygenase (ToMO) was recently recruited into a preexisting pathway that already possessed the ph operon coding for phenol hydroxylase (PH). This apparently resulted in a redundancy of enzymatic activities, because both enzymes are able to hydroxylate (methyl)benzenes to (methyl)catechols via the intermediate production of (methyl)phenols. We investigated the kinetics and regioselectivity of toluene and o-xylene oxidation using Escherichia coli cells expressing ToMO and PH complexes. Our data indicate that in the recombinant system the enzymes act sequentially and that their catalytic efficiency and regioselectivity optimize the degradation of toluene and o-xylene, both of which are growth substrates. The main product of toluene oxidation by ToMO is p-cresol, the best substrate for PH, which catalyzes its transformation to 4-methylcatechol. The sequential action of the two enzymes on o-xylene leads, via the intermediate 3,4-dimethylphenol, to the exclusive production of 3,4-dimethylcatechol, the only dimethylcatechol isomer that can serve as a carbon and energy source after further metabolic processing. Moreover, our data strongly support a metabolic explanation for the acquisition of the ToMO operon by P. stutzeri OX1. It is possible that using the two enzymes in a concerted fashion confers on the strain a selective advantage based on the ability of the microorganism to optimize the efficiency of the use of nonhydroxylated aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzene, toluene, and o-xylene.
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is an enzyme that plays a key role in the modulation of catechol-dependent functions such as cognition, cardiovascular function, and pain processing. Three common haplotypes of the human COMT gene, divergent in two synonymous and one nonsynonymous (val158met) position, designated as low (LPS), average (APS), and high pain sensitive (HPS), are associated with experimental pain sensitivity and risk of developing chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions. APS and HPS haplotypes produce significant functional effects, coding for 3- and 20-fold reductions in COMT enzymatic activity, respectively. In the present study, we investigated whether additional minor single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), accruing in 1 to 5% of the population, situated in the COMT transcript region contribute to haplotype-dependent enzymatic activity. Computer analysis of COMT ESTs showed that one synonymous minor SNP (rs769224) is linked to the APS haplotype and three minor SNPs (two synonymous: rs6267, rs740602 and one nonsynonymous: rs8192488) are linked to the HPS haplotype. Results from in silico and in vitro experiments revealed that inclusion of allelic variants of these minor SNPs in APS or HPS haplotypes did not modify COMT function at the level of mRNA folding, RNA transcription, protein translation, or enzymatic activity. These data suggest that neutral variants are carried with APS and HPS haplotypes, while the high activity LPS haplotype displays less linked variation. Thus, both minor synonymous and nonsynonymous SNPs in the coding region are markers of functional APS and HPS haplotypes rather than independent contributors to COMT activity.
► COMT gene can influence cognitive function in developmental stage specific manner. ► A large UK population-based sample with cognition measured at ages 8 and 15 years was used. ► Five functional COMT SNPs were tested for association with cognition. ► COMT rs737865 showed association with reading comprehension, verbal ability and global cognition at age 15 years in pubescent boys only. ► Further studies are necessary in order to make stronger conclusions.
Genetic variation in the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene (COMT) can influence cognitive function, and this effect may depend on developmental stage. Using a large representative British birth cohort, we investigated the effect of COMT on cognitive function (verbal and non-verbal) at ages 8 and 15 years taking into account the possible modifying effect of pubertal stage. Five functional COMT polymorphisms, rs6269, rs4818, rs4680, rs737865 and rs165599 were analysed. Associations between COMT polymorphisms and cognition were tested using regression and latent variable structural equation modelling (SEM). Before correction for multiple testing, COMT rs737865 showed association with reading comprehension, verbal ability and global cognition at age 15 years in pubescent boys only. Although there was some evidence for age- and sex-specific effects of the COMT rs737865 none remained significant after correction for multiple testing. Further studies are necessary in order to make firmer conclusions.
Dopamine; Birth cohort; Longitudinal study; Adolescent; Puberty
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a major enzyme controlling catecholamine levels that plays a central role in cognition, affective mood and pain perception. There are three common COMT haplotypes in the human population reported to have functional effects, divergent in two synonymous and one nonsynonymous position. We demonstrate that one of the haplotypes, carrying the non-synonymous variation known to code for a less stable protein, exhibits increased protein expression in vitro. This increased protein expression, which would compensate for lower protein stability, is solely produced by a synonymous variation (C166T) situated within the haplotype and located in the 5′ region of the RNA transcript. Based on mRNA secondary structure predictions, we suggest that structural destabilization near the start codon caused by the T allele could be related to the observed increase in COMT expression. Our folding simulations of the tertiary mRNA structures demonstrate that destabilization by the T allele lowers the folding transition barrier, thus decreasing the probability of occupying its native state. These data suggest a novel structural mechanism whereby functional synonymous variations near the translation initiation codon affect the translation efficiency via entropy-driven changes in mRNA dynamics and present another example of stable compensatory genetic variations in the human population.
Catecholic drugs had been reported to be metabolized through conjugation reactions, particularly methylation and sulfation. Whether and how these two Phase II conjugation reactions may occur in a concerted manner, however, remained unclear. The current study was designed to investigate the methylation and/or sulfation of five catecholic drugs. Analysis of the spent media of HepG2 cells metabolically labeled with [35S]sulfate in the presence of individual catecholic drugs revealed the presence of two [35S]sulfated metabolites for dopamine, epinephrine, isoproterenol, and isoetharine, but only one [35S]sulfated metabolite for apomorphine. Further analyses using tropolone, a catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitor, indicated that one of the two [35S]sulfated metabolites of dopamine, epinephrine, isoproterenol, and isoetharine was a doubly conjugated (methylated and sulfated) product, since its level decreased proportionately with increasing concentrations of tropolone added to the labeling media. Moreover, while the inhibition of methylation resulted in a decrease of the total amount of [35S]sulfated metabolites, sulfation appeared to be capable of compensating the suppressed methylation in the metabolism of these four catecholic drugs. A two-stage enzymatic assay showed the sequential methylation and sulfation of dopamine, epinephrine, isoproterenol, and isoetharine mediated by, respectively, the COMT and the cytosolic sulfotransferase SULT1A3. Collectively, the results from the present study implied the concerted actions of the COMT and SULT1A3 in the metabolism of catecholic drugs.
Methylation; Sulfation; COMTs; SULTs; Catecholic drugs
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) metabolizes dopamine. The COMT Val158Met polymorphism influences its activity, and multiple neural correlates of this genotype on dopaminergic phenotypes, especially working memory, have been reported. COMT activity can also be regulated pharmacologically by COMT inhibitors. The inverted-U relationship between cortical dopamine signaling and working memory predicts that the effects of COMT inhibition will differ according to COMT genotype.
Thirty-four COMT Met158Met (Met-COMT) and 33 COMT Val158Val (Val-COMT) men were given a single 200-mg dose of the brain-penetrant COMT inhibitor tolcapone or placebo in a randomized, double-blind, between-subjects design. They completed the N-back task of working memory and a gambling task.
In the placebo group, Met-COMT subjects outperformed Val-COMT subjects on the 2- back, and they were more risk averse. Tolcapone had opposite effects in the two genotype groups: it worsened N-back performance in Met-COMT subjects but enhanced it in Val-COMT subjects. Tolcapone made Met-COMT subjects less risk averse but Val-COMT subjects more so. In both tasks, tolcapone reversed the baseline genotype differences.
Depending on genotype, COMT inhibition can enhance or impair working memory and increase or decrease risky decision making. To our knowledge, the data are the clearest demonstration to date that the direction of effect of a drug can be influenced by a polymorphism in its target gene. The results support the inverted-U model of dopamine function. The findings are of translational relevance, because COMT inhibitors are used in the adjunctive treatment of Parkinson's disease and are under evaluation in schizophrenia and other disorders.
Catechol-o-methyltransferase; decision making; pharmacogenetics; polymorphism; tolcapone; working memory
Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) plays a key role in dopamine and estrogen metabolism. Recently, COMT haplotypes rather than the single polymorphism Val158Met have been reported to underlie differences in protein expression by modulating mRNA secondary structure. So far, studies investigating the epigenetic variability of the S-COMT (soluble COMT) promoter region mainly focused on phenotypical aspects, and results have been controversial.
We assessed S-COMT promoter methylation in saliva and blood derived DNA with regard to early pre- and postnatal growth as well as to genotype for polymorphisms rs6269, rs4633, and rs4680 (Val158Met) in 20 monozygotic twin pairs (mean age 4 years), who were discordant for intrauterine development due to severe feto-fetal-transfusion syndrome. Methylation levels of two previously reported partially methylated cytosines were determined by the quantitative SIRPH (SNuPE- IP RP HPLC) assay.
Overall, we observed a high variability of S-COMT promoter methylation, which did not correlate with individual differences in the pre- or postnatal growth pattern. Within the twin pairs however we noted a distinct similarity that could be linked to underlying COMT genotypes. This association was subsequently confirmed in a cohort of 93 unrelated adult controls. Interestingly, 158Val-alleles were found at both ends of the epigenotypical range, which is in accordance with a recently proposed model of COMT haplotypes corresponding to a continuum of phenotypical variability.
The strong heritable component of S-COMT promoter methylation found in our study needs to be considered in future approaches that focus on interactions between COMT epigenotype and phenotype.
Methyltransferases possess a homologous domain that requires both a divalent metal cation and S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) to catalyze its reactions. The kinetics of several methyltransferases has been well characterized; however, the details regarding their structural mechanisms have remained unclear to date. Using catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) as a model, we perform discrete molecular dynamics and computational docking simulations to elucidate the initial stages of cofactor binding. We find that COMT binds SAM via an induced-fit mechanism, where SAM adopts a different docking pose in the absence of metal and substrate in comparison to the holoenzyme. Flexible modeling of the active site side-chains is essential for observing the lowest energy state in the apoenzyme; rigid docking tools are unable to recapitulate the pose unless the appropriate side-chain conformations are given a priori. From our docking results, we hypothesize that the metal reorients SAM in a conformation suitable for donating its methyl substituent to the recipient ligand. The proposed mechanism enables a general understanding of how divalent metal cations contribute to methyltransferase function.
Catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) is a catabolic enzyme involved in the degradation of a number of bioactive molecules; of principal interest to psychiatry, these include dopamine. The enzyme is encoded by the COMT gene. COMT is located (along with 47 other genes) in a fragment of chromosome 22q11 which when deleted results in a complex syndrome, the psychiatric manifestations of which include schizophrenia and other psychoses. These 2 observations have placed COMT near the top of a rather long list of plausible candidate genes for schizophrenia. The ability to test the hypothesis that COMT might be a susceptibility gene for schizophrenia has been simplified in principle by the existence of a valine-to-methionine (Val/Met) polymorphism which results respectively in high and low activity forms of the enzyme. Given the unequivocal effect of this polymorphism on the function of COMT, and the evidence for a critical role for dopamine in the pathophysiology and treatment of psychosis, there are strong prior expectations that Val/Met influences susceptibility to schizophrenia as well as other psychiatric phenotypes. Indeed the Val/Met polymorphism has become the most widely studied polymorphism in psychiatry. In this review, we consider the evidence for and against the involvement of COMT in schizophrenia. The current data allow us to virtually exclude a simple relationship between schizophrenia and the Val/Met variant previously thought to dominate COMT function. However, recent data suggest a more complex pattern of genetic regulation of COMT function beyond that attributable to the Val/Met locus. Moreover, it is also clear that there is a complex nonlinear relationship between dopamine availability and brain function. These 2 factors, allied to phenotypic complexity within schizophrenia, make it difficult to draw strong conclusions regarding COMT in schizophrenia. Nevertheless, emerging research that takes greater account of all these levels of complexity is beginning to provide tantalizing, but far from definitive, support for the view that COMT influences susceptibility to at least some forms of psychosis.
schizophrenia; COMT; prefrontal cortex; association; cognition; psychosis
Cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1) and catechol-$O$-methyltransferase (COMT) enzymes play critical roles in estrogen metabolism. Alterations in the catalytic activity of CYP1B1 and COMT enzymes have been found associated with altered breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women in many populations. The substitution of leucine (Leu) to valine (Val) at codon 432 increases the catalytic activity of CYP1B1, however, substitution of Val to methionine (Met) at codon 158 decreases the catalytic activity of COMT. The present study was performed to evaluate the associations of CYP1B1 Leu432Val and/or COMT Val158Met polymorphisms with total, premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer risks in Indian women. COMT and CYP1B1 polymorphisms in controls and breast cancer patients were analyzed employing polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) followed by gel electrophoresis. Although CYP1B1 and COMT genotypes did not exhibit statistically significant association with breast cancer risks when analyzed individually, COMT wild type (Val158Val) in combination with CYP1B1 heterozygous variant (Leu432Val) [OR: 0.21; 95% CI (0.05–0.82), p value; 0.021] and COMT heterozygous variant (Val158Met) in combination with CYP1B1 wild type (Leu432Leu) [OR: 0.29; 95% CI (0.08–0.96), p value; 0.042] showed significant protective association with premenopausal breast cancer risk. The results demonstrate that CYP1B1 wild type in combination with COMT heterozygous or their inverse combination offer protection against breast cancer in premenopausal Indian women.
Breast cancer; genetic polymorphism; CYP1B1; COMT
Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT)-catalyzed methylation of catecholestrogens has been proposed to play a protective role in estrogen-induced genotoxic carcinogenesis. We have taken a comprehensive approach to test the hypothesis that genetic variation in COMT might influence breast cancer risk. Fifteen COMT SNPs selected on the basis of in-depth resequencing of the COMT gene were genotyped in 1482 DNA samples from a Mayo Clinic breast cancer case-control study. Two common SNPs in the distal promoter for membrane-bound (MB) COMT, rs2020917 and rs737865, were associated with breast cancer risk reduction in premenopausal women in the Mayo Clinic study, with allele-specific odds ratios of 0.70 (95% CI = 0.52–0.95) and 0.68 (95% CI = 0.51–0.92), respectively. These two SNPs were then subjected to functional genomic analysis and were genotyped in an additional 3683 DNA samples from two independent case-control studies (GENICA and GESBC). Functional genomic experiments showed that these SNPs could up-regulate transcription and that they altered DNA-protein binding patterns. Furthermore, substrate kinetic and exon array analyses suggested a role for MB-COMT in catecholestrogen inactivation. The GENICA results were similar to the Mayo case-control observations, with ORs of 0.85 (95% CI = 0.72–1.00) and 0.85 (95% CI = 0.72–1.01) for the two SNPs. No significant effect was observed in the GESBC study. These studies demonstrated that two SNPs in the COMT distal promoter were associated with breast cancer risk reduction in 2 of 3 case-control studies, compatible with the results of functional genomic experiments, suggesting a role for MB-COMT in breast cancer risk.
Catechol O-methyltransferase; COMT; MB-COMT; S-COMT; breast cancer risk; genetic polymorphism; SNPs; functional genomics
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is vital for the conjugation of catechol estrogens that are produced during oestrogen metabolism. The efficiency of this process varies due to a polymorphism in COMT, which changes valine to methionine (V158M). The Met genotypes slow the metabolism of catechol oestrogens, which are agents that are capable of causing DNA damage through the formation of DNA adducts and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. The slower metabolism of catechol oestrogens results in there being a higher circulating concentration of these oeastrogens and consequently greater probability of DNA damage. To determine whether metabolic inefficiencies of oeastrogen metabolism are associated with the development of malignancy in hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), we studied the V158M polymorphism in COMT in a large cohort of 498 HNPCC patients from Australia and Poland that were either mutation positive (n = 331) or negative (n = 167) for mismatch repair (MMR) gene mutations (hMLH1 or hMSH2). HNPCC is a familial predisposition to colorectal cancer (CRC) and extracolonic cancers that include endometrial cancer.
Using Real Time PCR, the COMT V158M polymorphism was examined and its association with disease expression, age of diagnosis of cancer, mutation status and mutation type was assessed in the HNPCC MMR mutation positive and negative groups. This study showed that the V158M polymorphism had no association with disease risk in the HNPCC MMR mutation positive population. However, the polymorphism was significantly associated with endometrial/ovarian cancer risk in HNPCC MMR mutation negative patients (p = 0.002). The heterozygous (Val/Met) genotype was associated with an increased risk of developing endometrial/ovarian cancer whereas the homozygous mutant (Met/Met) showed a decreased risk. The results suggest heterosis, where there is an apparent greater effect of the heterozygous state in this dichotomous trait. In conclusion, this study shows that the COMT V158M polymorphism alters the risk of developing endometrial/ovarian cancer in patients that adhere to the Amsterdam HNPCC criteria but do not have a DNA mismatch repair gene mutation.
HNPCC; colorectal cancer; endometrial cancer; COMT V158M; MMR; mutations
Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) modulates dopamine in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and influences PFC dopamine-dependent cognitive task performance. A human COMT polymorphism (Val158Met) alters enzyme activity and is associated with both the activation and functional connectivity of the PFC during task performance, particularly working memory. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and a data-driven, independent components analysis (ICA) approach to compare resting state functional connectivity within the executive control network (ECN) between young, male COMT Val158 (n = 27) and Met158 (n = 28) homozygotes. COMT genotype effects on grey matter were assessed using voxel-based morphometry. COMT genotype significantly modulated functional connectivity within the ECN, which included the head of the caudate, and anterior cingulate and frontal cortical regions. Val158 homozygotes showed greater functional connectivity between a cluster within the left ventrolateral PFC and the rest of the ECN (using a threshold of Z > 2.3 and a family-wise error cluster significance level of p < 0.05). This difference occurred in the absence of any alterations in grey matter. Our data show that COMT Val158Met affects the functional connectivity of the PFC at rest, complementing its prominent role in the activation and functional connectivity of this region during cognitive task performance. The results suggest that genotype-related differences in prefrontal dopaminergic tone result in neuroadaptive changes in basal functional connectivity, potentially including subtle COMT genotype-dependent differences in the relative coupling of task-positive and task-negative regions, which could in turn contribute to its effects on brain activation, connectivity, and behaviour.
► We studied the impact of COMT Val158Met genotype on resting state connectivity. ► We compared resting state functional connectivity in Val/Val vs. Met/Met men. ► We focussed on the predominantly prefrontal (PFC) executive control network (ECN). ► The ECN was identified using a group ICA approach. ► We found greater resting PFC functional connectivity in Val/Val vs. Met/Met men.
Resting state network; Dopamine; Working memory; Prefrontal cortex; Polymorphism; fMRI