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Science. 1987 Jan 23;235(4787):473-6.

Macrophage cytotoxicity: role for L-arginine deiminase and imino nitrogen oxidation to nitrite.


Previous studies have shown that cytotoxic activated macrophages cause inhibition of DNA synthesis, of mitochondrial respiration, and of aconitase activity in tumor target cells. An L-arginine-dependent biochemical pathway synthesizing L-citrulline and nitrite, coupled to an effector mechanism, is now shown to cause this pattern of metabolic inhibition. Murine cytotoxic activated macrophages synthesize L-citrulline and nitrite in the presence of L-arginine but not D-arginine. L-Citrulline and nitrite biosynthesis by cytotoxic activated macrophages is inhibited by NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, which also inhibits this cytotoxic effector mechanism. This activated macrophage cytotoxic effector system is associated with L-arginine deiminase activity, and the imino nitrogen removed from the guanido group of L-arginine by the deiminase reaction subsequently undergoes oxidation to nitrite. L-Homoarginine, an alternative substrate for this deiminase, is converted to L-homocitrulline with concurrent nitrite synthesis and similar biologic effects.

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