Article Title

Proteasomal degradation of N-Acetyltransferase 1 is prevented by acetylation of the active site cysteine


Many drugs and chemicals found in the environment are either detoxified by N-acetyltransferase 1 (NAT1, EC and eliminated from the body or bioactivated to metabolites that have the potential to cause toxicity and/or cancer. NAT1 activity in the body is regulated by genetic polymorphisms as well as environmental factors such as substrate-dependent down-regulation and oxidative stress. Here we report the molecular mechanism for the low protein expression from mutant NAT1 alleles that gives rise to the slow acetylator phenotype and show that a similar process accounts for enzyme down-regulation by NAT1 substrates. NAT1 allozymes NAT1 14, NAT1 15, NAT1 17, and NAT1 22 are devoid of enzyme activity and have short intracellular half-lives (∼4 h) compared with wild-type NAT1 4 and the active allozyme NAT1 24. The inactive allozymes are unable to be acetylated by cofactor, resulting in ubiquitination and rapid degradation by the 26 S proteasome. This was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis of the active site cysteine 68. The NAT1 substrate p-aminobenzoic acid induced ubiquitination of the usually stable NAT1 4, leading to its rapid degradation. From this study, we conclude that NAT1 exists in the cell in either a stable acetylated state or an unstable non-acetylated state and that mutations in the NAT1 gene that prevent protein acetylation produce a slow acetylator phenotype.



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