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Toxicol Lett. 1992 Dec;64-65 Spec No:123-30.

Acetyltransferases and susceptibility to chemicals.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of North Dakota School of Medicine, Grand Forks 58203.


Arylamine chemicals inflict a number of toxicities including cancer. Metabolic activation (i.e., oxidation) is required in order to elicit the toxic actions. Acetylation is an important step in the metabolic activation and deactivation of arylamines. N-acetylation forms the amide derivative which is often nontoxic. However, O-acetylation of the N-hydroxyarylamine (following oxidation) yields an acetoxy arylamine derivative which breaks down spontaneously to a highly reactive arylnitrenium ion, the ultimate metabolite responsible for mutagenic and carcinogenic lesions. Human capacity to acetylate arylamine chemicals is subject to a genetic polymorphism. Individuals segregate into rapid, intermediate, or slow acetylator phenotypes by Mendelian inheritance regulated by a single gene encoding for a polymorphic acetyltransferase isozyme (NAT2). Individuals homozygous for mutant alleles are deficient in the polymorphic acetyltransferase and are slow acetylators. A second acetyltransferase isozyme (NAT1) is monomorphic and is not regulated by the acetylator genotype. Several human epidemiological studies suggest an association between slow acetylator phenotype and urinary bladder cancer. In contrast, a few studies suggest a relationship between rapid acetylator phenotype and colorectal cancer. The basis for this paradox may relate to the relative importance of N- versus O-acetylation in the etiology of these cancers. Conclusions drawn from human epidemiological data are often compromised by uncontrolled environmental and other genetic factors. Our laboratory recently completed construction of homozygous rapid, heterozygous intermediate, and homozygous slow acetylator congenic Syrian hamsters to be homologous in greater than 99.975% of their genomes. The availability of these acetylator congenic lines should eliminate genetic variability in virtually all aspects of arylamine carcinogenesis except at the acetylator gene locus. Ongoing studies in these congenic hamster lines should provide unequivocal information regarding the role of genetic acetylator phenotype in susceptibility to arylamine-related cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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