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J Biol Chem. 2006 Dec 1;281(48):36569-78. Epub 2006 Oct 2.

A second fatty acid amide hydrolase with variable distribution among placental mammals.

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The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology and Departments of Cell Biology and Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Fatty acid amides constitute a large and diverse class of lipid transmitters that includes the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide and the sleep-inducing substance oleamide. The magnitude and duration of fatty acid amide signaling are controlled by enzymatic hydrolysis in vivo. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) activity in mammals has been primarily attributed to a single integral membrane enzyme of the amidase signature (AS) family. Here, we report the functional proteomic discovery of a second membrane-associated AS enzyme in humans that displays FAAH activity. The gene that encodes this second FAAH enzyme was found in multiple primate genomes, marsupials, and more distantly related vertebrates, but, remarkably, not in a number of lower placental mammals, including mouse and rat. The two human FAAH enzymes, which share 20% sequence identity and are referred to hereafter as FAAH-1 and FAAH-2, hydrolyzed primary fatty acid amide substrates (e.g. oleamide) at equivalent rates, whereas FAAH-1 exhibited much greater activity with N-acyl ethanolamines (e.g. anandamide) and N-acyl taurines. Both enzymes were sensitive to the principal classes of FAAH inhibitors synthesized to date, including O-aryl carbamates and alpha-keto heterocycles. These data coupled with the overlapping, but distinct tissue distributions of FAAH-1 and FAAH-2 suggest that these proteins may collaborate to control fatty acid amide catabolism in primates. The apparent loss of the FAAH-2 gene in some lower mammals should be taken into consideration when extrapolating genetic or pharmacological findings on the fatty acid amide signaling system across species.

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