Diisopropylphosphorofluoridate and Tabun: Enzymatic Hydrolysis and Nerve Function

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Science  18 Jun 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3989, pp. 1243-1245
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3989.1243


Squid nerve contains an enzyme that hydrolyzes the nerve gas Tabun at about one-tenth the rate it hydrolyzes diisopropylphosphorofluoridate (DFP), and at about one-third to one-fourth the rate it hydrolyzes Sarin and Soman. Tabun is a more potent inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase than is DFP, is both lipid-and water-soluble, and penetrates readily into the squid giant axon in its inhibitory form. The failure of Tabun to block or markedly decrease the conducted action potential in the squid axon makes it likely that the blocking of conduction caused by DFP is probably not due to inhibition of acetylcholinesterase. Sub-strate specificity with regard to organophosphate metabolism by squid enzyme has possible implications for the disposal and detoxication of nerve gases in the ocean.