Biochemical pharmacology

S-oxygenation of the thioether organophosphate insecticides phorate and disulfoton by human lung flavin-containing monooxygenase 2.

PMID 15294458


Phorate and disulfoton are organophosphate insecticides containing three oxidizable sulfurs, including a thioether. Previous studies have shown that only the thioether is oxygenated by flavin-containing monooxygenase (FMO) and the sole product is the sulfoxide with no oxygenation to the sulfone. The major FMO in lung of most mammals, including non-human primates, is FMO2. The FMO2*2 allele, found in all Caucasians and Asians genotyped to date, codes for a truncated, non-functional, protein (FMO2.2A). Twenty-six percent of individuals of African descent and 5% of Hispanics have the FMO2*1 allele, coding for full-length, functional protein (FMO2.1). We have here demonstrated that the thioether-containing organophosphate insecticides, phorate and disulfoton, are substrates for expressed human FMO2.1 with Km of 57 and 32 microM, respectively. LC/MS confirmed the addition of oxygen and formation of a single polar metabolite for each chemical. MS/MS analysis confirmed the metabolites to be the respective sulfoxides. Co-incubations with glutathione did not reduce yield, suggesting they are not highly electrophilic. As the sulfoxide of phorate is a markedly less effective acetylcholinesterase inhibitor than the cytochrome P450 metabolites (oxon, oxon sulfoxide or oxon sulfone), humans possessing the FMO2*1 allele may be more resistant to organophosphate-mediated toxicity when pulmonary metabolism is an important route of exposure or disposition.

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Disulfoton, PESTANAL®, analytical standard