Actinobacteria in the Tsukamurella genus are aerobic, high-GC, Gram-positive mycolata, considered as opportunistic pathogens and isolated from various environmental sources, including sites contaminated with oil, urban or industrial waste and pesticides. Although studies look into xenobiotic biotransformation by Tsukamurella isolates, the relevant enzymes remain uncharacterized. We investigated the arylamine N-acetyltransferase (NAT) enzyme family, known for its role in the xenobiotic metabolism of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Xenobiotic sensitivity of Tsukamurella paurometabola type strain DSM 20162T was assessed, followed by cloning, recombinant expression and functional characterization of its single NAT homolog (TSUPD)NAT1. The bacterium appeared quite robust against chloroanilines, but more sensitive to 4-anisidine and 2-aminophenol. However, metabolic activity was not evident towards those compounds, presumably due to mechanisms protecting cells from xenobiotic entry. Of the pharmaceutical arylhydrazines tested, hydralazine was toxic, but the bacterium was less sensitive to isoniazid, a drug targeting mycolic acid biosynthesis in mycobacteria. Although (TSUPD)NAT1 protein has an atypical Cys-His-Glu (instead of the expected Cys-His-Asp) catalytic triad, it is enzymatically active, suggesting that this deviation is likely due to evolutionary adaptation potentially serving a different function. The protein was indeed found to use malonyl-CoA, instead of the archetypal acetyl-CoA, as its preferred donor substrate. Malonyl-CoA is important for microbial biosynthesis of fatty acids (including mycolic acids) and polyketide chains, and the corresponding enzymatic systems have common evolutionary histories, also linked to xenobiotic metabolism. This study adds to accummulating evidence suggesting broad phylogenetic and functional divergence of microbial NAT enzymes that goes beyond xenobiotic metabolism and merits investigation.
Keywords: Acylated dichloroaniline derivatives; Malonyl-coenzyme A; N-acetyltransferase; N-malonyltransferase; NAT enzyme family; Tsukamurella paurometabola; Xenobiotics.