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Toxicol Sci. 2013 Oct;135(2):390-401. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kft166. Epub 2013 Jul 28.

Bioinformatic analysis of 302 reactive metabolite target proteins. Which ones are important for cell death?

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* Department of Medicinal Chemistry and.


Many low molecular weight compounds undergo biotransformation to chemically reactive metabolites (CRMs) that covalently modify cellular proteins. However, the mechanisms by which this covalent binding leads to cytotoxicity are not understood. Prior analyses of lists of target proteins sorted by functional categories or hit frequency have not proven informative. In an attempt to move beyond covalent binding, we hypothesized that xenobiotic posttranslational modification of proteins might disrupt important protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and thereby direct cells from homeostasis into cell death pathways. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed a list of 302 proteins (66% rat, 26% mouse, 5% human) known to be targeted by 41 different cytotoxic CRMs. Human orthologs of rodent proteins were found by blast sequence alignment, and their interacting partners were found using the Human Protein Reference Database. The combined set of target orthologs and partners was sorted into KEGG pathways and Gene Ontology categories. Those most highly ranked based on sorting statistics and toxicological relevance were heavily involved with intracellular signaling pathways, protein folding, unfolded protein response, and regulation of apoptosis. Detailed examination revealed that many of the categories were flagged primarily by partner proteins rather than target proteins and that a majority of these partners interacted with just a small number of proteins in the CRM target set. A similar analysis performed without the partner proteins flagged very few categories as significant. These results support the hypothesis that disruption of important PPIs may be a major mechanism contributing to CRM-induced acute cytotoxicity.


cytotoxicity.; protein covalent binding; protein-protein interaction; reactive metabolites

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