Organophosphorus degrading enzymes: Molecular basis and perspectives for enzymatic bioremediation of agrochemicals

ABSTRACT Many organophosphorus compounds (OP) are used until today in agriculture as pesticides and, unfortunately, they are used as chemical warfare agents (or nerve agents) as well. Organophosphorus pesticides and nerve agents are extremely toxic molecules, since they act as Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors. The most worrying effect of the exposure to these compounds is the acute cholinergic toxicity, which is the loss of muscle coordination. Once one is contaminated, the intoxication process begins through the binding of the OP in the active site of the AChE enzyme inactivating it. Current treatments for people exposed to low doses of OP can be performed with atropine, oximes and benzodiazepines. Important remediation processes involve the employment of bioremediation techniques using different degrading enzymes, such as the Phosphotriesterase from Agrobacterium radiobacter and SMP-30. Due to the high number of intoxications annually, it is crucial to search for more potent and effective treatment methods, and in this line, the techniques involving bioremediation seem to be quite promising for this purpose.