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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43877. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043877. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Biochemical and mass spectrometric characterization of human N-acylethanolamine-hydrolyzing acid amidase inhibition.

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Northeastern University, Center for Drug Discovery, Boston, Massachussetts, United States of America.


The mechanism of inactivation of human enzyme N-acylethanolamine-hydrolyzing acid amidase (hNAAA), with selected inhibitors identified in a novel fluorescent based assay developed for characterization of both reversible and irreversible inhibitors, was investigated kinetically and using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). 1-Isothiocyanatopentadecane (AM9023) was found to be a potent, selective and reversible hNAAA inhibitor, while two others, 5-((biphenyl-4-yl)methyl)-N,N-dimethyl-2H-tetrazole-2-carboxamide (AM6701) and N-Benzyloxycarbonyl-L-serine β-lactone (N-Cbz-serine β-lactone), inhibited hNAAA in a covalent and irreversible manner. MS analysis of the hNAAA/covalent inhibitor complexes identified modification only of the N-terminal cysteine (Cys126) of the β-subunit, confirming a suggested mechanism of hNAAA inactivation by the β-lactone containing inhibitors. These experiments provide direct evidence of the key role of Cys126 in hNAAA inactivation by different classes of covalent inhibitors, confirming the essential role of cysteine for catalysis and inhibition in this cysteine N-terminal nucleophile hydrolase enzyme. They also provide a methodology for the rapid screening and characterization of large libraries of compounds as potential inhibitors of NAAA, and subsequent characterization or their mechanism through MALDI-TOF MS based bottom up-proteomics.

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