Selective protein covalent binding and target organ toxicity

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1997 Mar;143(1):1-12. doi: 10.1006/taap.1996.8074.


Protein covalent binding by xenobiotic metabolites has long been associated with target organ toxicity but mechanistic involvement of such binding has not been widely demonstrated. Modern biochemical, molecular, and immunochemical approaches have facilitated identification of specific protein targets of xenobiotic covalent binding. Such studies have revealed that protein covalent binding is not random, but rather selective with respect to the proteins targeted. Selective binding to specific cellular target proteins may better correlate with toxicity than total protein covalent binding. Current research is directed at characterizing and identifying the targeted proteins and clarifying the effect of such binding on their structure, function, and potential roles in target organ toxicity. The approaches employed to detect and identify the tartgeted proteins are described. Metabolites of acetaminophen, halothane, and 2,5-hexanedione form covalently bound adducts to recently identified protein targets. The selective binding may influence homeostatic or other cellular responses which in turn contribute to drug toxicity, hypersensitivity, or autoimmunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / metabolism
  • Acetaminophen / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / immunology
  • Halothane / metabolism
  • Halothane / toxicity
  • Hexanones / metabolism
  • Hexanones / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity / drug effects*
  • Protein Binding
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Seminiferous Tubules / drug effects
  • Seminiferous Tubules / metabolism
  • Toxicology / methods*
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Hexanones
  • Proteins
  • Xenobiotics
  • Acetaminophen
  • 2,5-hexanedione
  • Halothane