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Am J Epidemiol. 2000 May 1;151(9):846-61.

N-acetyltransferase polymorphisms and colorectal cancer: a HuGE review.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom.


The two expressed genes coding for N-acetyltransferase (NAT) activity, NAT1 and NAT2, are located on chromosome 8 at 8p21.3-23.1 and are polymorphic. Both enzymes are capable of N-acetylation, O-acetylation, and N,O-acetylation and are implicated in the activation and detoxification of known carcinogens. Single base-pair substitutions in NAT2 tend to occur in combination with other substitutions within the gene. As yet, less work has been done to characterize NAT1 allelic variants. Various methods for the detection of the reported polymorphisms exist. It is important to select a method that is appropriate to the population being studied. The functional significance of many NAT allelic variants has not been determined. Geographic and ethnic variation in the frequency of NAT2 genotypes associated with fast or intermediate acetylation has been observed. Insufficient data for NAT1 genotypes are available to reveal a clear geographic pattern. No consistent association has been found between acetylator phenotype or genotype and colorectal cancer. The lack of consistency can in part be accounted for by methodological factors, including limited statistical power. Possible interactions between the NAT genes and either environmental exposures or other polymorphic genes encoding xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes have been investigated in only a minority of these studies, and these studies have lacked statistical power to detect interactions.

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