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Use of Esterase Activities for the Detection of Chemical Neurotoxic Agents

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The quest for a quick and easy detection of the neurotoxin levels in the environment has fostered the search for systems alternative to currently employed analytical methods such as spectrophotometry, gas-liquid chromatography, thin-layer chromatography, and more recently mass spectrometry. These drawbacks lead to intense research efforts to develop biosensor devices for the determination of these compounds. In this review, we present an overview of the actual development of research in neurotoxin detection by using enzymatic biosensors based on esterase activity, in particular cholinesterases, and carboxylesterases. Detection by enzymatic activity could be carried out measuring the hydrolysis products or the residual enzymatic activity after inhibition, using a transducer system that makes possible the correlation between the determined activity and the analyte concentration. Several transducer systems were adopted for the neurotoxins identification using esterases, including electrochemical, optical, conductimetric and piezoelectric procedures. The differences in the used transducer determine the final sensitivity and specificity of the biosensor. Moreover, a brief description of immobilization procedure, that is an important step in the biosensor development and could affect the final characteristic of biosensor (sensibility, stability, response time and reproducibility), was accomplished. Final considerations on advantages and problems, related to actual development of these technologies, and its prospective were discussed.

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Keywords: Esterase; biosensor; neurotoxic compounds; organophosphate

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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