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The Journal of biological chemistry

An acetyltransferase conferring tolerance to toxic aromatic amine chemicals: molecular and functional studies.


PMID 19416981

Abstract

Aromatic amines (AA) are a major class of environmental pollutants that have been shown to have genotoxic and cytotoxic potentials toward most living organisms. Fungi are able to tolerate a diverse range of chemical compounds including certain AA and have long been used as models to understand general biological processes. Deciphering the mechanisms underlying this tolerance may improve our understanding of the adaptation of organisms to stressful environments and pave the way for novel pharmaceutical and/or biotechnological applications. We have identified and characterized two arylamine N-acetyltransferase (NAT) enzymes (PaNAT1 and PaNAT2) from the model fungus Podospora anserina that acetylate a wide range of AA. Targeted gene disruption experiments revealed that PaNAT2 was required for the growth and survival of the fungus in the presence of toxic AA. Functional studies using the knock-out strains and chemically acetylated AA indicated that tolerance of P. anserina to toxic AA was due to the N-acetylation of these chemicals by PaNAT2. Moreover, we provide proof-of-concept remediation experiments where P. anserina, through its PaNAT2 enzyme, is able to detoxify the highly toxic pesticide residue 3,4-dichloroaniline in experimentally contaminated soil samples. Overall, our data show that a single xenobiotic-metabolizing enzyme can mediate tolerance to a major class of pollutants in a eukaryotic species. These findings expand the understanding of the role of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzyme and in particular of NATs in the adaptation of organisms to their chemical environment and provide a basis for new systems for the bioremediation of contaminated soils.

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