Acetylcholinesterase Active Site Cube© Teacher Resources

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Acetylcholinesterase is responsible for cleaving the excess neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, from the synapse. As your students unfold the Acetylcholinesterase Active Site Cube© they will see how the tightly-packed amino acid side chains bind the substrate (acetylcholine), and discover how 3 amino acids 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.

Acetylcholinesterase Active Site Cube© Contents

Find information about the contents of your Acetylcholinesterase Active Site Cube© .


Acetylcholinesterase Active Site Cube© Jmol Tutorials

Explore Jmol tutorials on the enzyme acetylcholinesterase.


Acetylcholinesterase Active Site Cube© Teaching Points

The acetylcholinesterase gene and the protein it encodes can be used to demonstrate a number of biological concepts, including enzyme specificity, competitive inhibition, mutation, characteristics of the genetic code, alternate splice sites, natural selection, bioinformatics, and disease transmission.


Next Generation Science Standards

Connections to: A Framework for K-12 Science Education Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas


Molecule of the Month on Acetylcholinesterase

The Molecule of the Month by scientist, author and artist Dr. David Goodsell includes an introduction to the structure and function of the chosen molecule and a discussion of its relevance to human health and welfare. Molecule of the Month articles are frequently referred to by teachers, students and researchers.