Human arylamine N-acetyltransferase 1 (NAT1) is a xenobiotic-metabolizing enzyme that biotransforms aromatic amine chemicals. We show here that biologically-relevant concentrations of inorganic (Hg2+) and organic (CH3Hg+) mercury inhibit the biotransformation functions of NAT1. Both compounds react irreversibly with the active-site cysteine of NAT1 (half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50)=250 nM and kinact=1.4x10(4) M(-1) s(-1) for Hg2+ and IC50=1.4 microM and kinact=2x10(2) M(-1) s(-1) for CH3Hg+). Exposure of lung epithelial cells led to the inhibition of cellular NAT1 (IC50=3 and 20 microM for Hg2+ and CH3Hg+, respectively). Our data suggest that exposure to mercury may affect the biotransformation of aromatic amines by NAT1.
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