The role of N-acetyltransferases in cancers

Gene. 2024 Jan 20:892:147866. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2023.147866. Epub 2023 Sep 30.


Cancer is a major global health problem that disrupts the balance of normal cellular growth and behavior. Mounting evidence has shown that epigenetic modification, specifically N-terminal acetylation, play a crucial role in the regulation of cell growth and function. Acetylation is a co- or post-translational modification to regulate important cellular progresses such as cell proliferation, cell cycle progress, and energy metabolism. Recently, N-acetyltransferases (NATs), enzymes responsible for acetylation, regulate signal transduction pathway in various cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma, breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. In this review, we clarify the regulatory role of NATs in cancer progression, such as cell proliferation, metastasis, cell apoptosis, autophagy, cell cycle arrest and energy metabolism. Furthermore, the mechanism of NATs on cancer remains to be further studied, and few drugs have been developed. This provides us with a new idea that targeting acetylation, especially NAT-mediated acetylation, may be an attractive way for inhibiting cancer progression.

Keywords: Acetylation; Cancer; N-acetyltransferases (NATs); N-α-acetyltransferase 10 (NAA10); Signal pathway.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Acetyltransferases / genetics
  • Acetyltransferases / metabolism
  • Apoptosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*


  • Acetyltransferases