In this study, the binding points of MethB and two structurally-related cationic phenoxazine dyes [meldola blue (MB) and nile blue (NB)] to human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) were investigated by molecular docking and site directed mutagenesis. The comparative inhibitory effects of MethB, MB and NB on recombinant wild type BChE and six human BChE mutants were spectrophotometrically studied. Kinetic analyses yielded the following information: MethB and MB were found to cause nonlinear inhibition of all recombinant BChEs except Y332A, compatible with a multi-site binding model. On the other hand, MethB and MB caused linear mixed inhibition of Y332A mutant, compatible with a single binding mode. Comparing the inhibitory effects in aspect of K-i values with recombinant wild type BChE (K-i = 0.042 mu M), MethB was found to be similar to 30, 80 and 270-fold less effective as an inhibitor of Y332A, F329A and T120F, respectively. NB caused nonlinear inhibition of all recombinant BChEs. The inhibitory effect of NB on Y332A mutant was similar to 370-fold lower, compared to recombinant wild type BChE (K-i = 0.006 mu M). Considering both kinetic and molecular docking results together, it was concluded that threonine 120, phenylalanine 329 and tyrosine 332 are critical amino acids in binding of cationic phenoxazine/phenothiazine structured ligands to human BChE. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.