First Things First: Vital Protein Marks by N-Terminal Acetyltransferases

Trends Biochem Sci. 2016 Sep;41(9):746-760. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2016.07.005. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


N-terminal (Nt) acetylation is known to be a highly abundant co-translational protein modification, but the recent discovery of Golgi- and chloroplast-resident N-terminal acetyltransferases (NATs) revealed that it can also be added post-translationally. Nt-acetylation may act as a degradation signal in a novel branch of the N-end rule pathway, whose functions include the regulation of human blood pressure. Nt-acetylation also modulates protein interactions, targeting, and folding. In plants, Nt-acetylation plays a role in the control of resistance to drought and in regulation of immune responses. Mutations of specific human NATs that decrease their activity can cause either the lethal Ogden syndrome or severe intellectual disability and cardiovascular defects. In sum, recent advances highlight Nt-acetylation as a key factor in many biological pathways.

Keywords: N-terminal acetylation; N-terminal acetyltransferase (NAT); Nα-acetyltransferase (Naa); protein folding; protein interactions; protein stability..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Acetyltransferases / genetics
  • Acetyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*


  • Acetyltransferases