Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) is an enzyme with broad substrate and ligand specificities and may function as a generalized bioscavenger by binding and/or hydrolyzing various xenobiotic agents and toxicants, many of which target the central and peripheral nervous systems. Variants of BChE were rationally designed to increase the enzyme's ability to hydrolyze the psychoactive enantiomer of cocaine. These variants were cloned, and then expressed using the magnICON transient expression system in plants and their enzymatic properties were investigated. In particular, we explored the effects that these site-directed mutations have over the enzyme kinetics with various substrates of BChE. We further compared the affinity of various anticholinesterases including organophosphorous nerve agents and pesticides toward these BChE variants relative to the wild type enzyme. In addition to serving as a therapy for cocaine addiction-related diseases, enhanced bioscavenging against other harmful agents could add to the practicality and versatility of the plant-derived recombinant enzyme as a multivalent therapeutic.
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