Bioactivation of Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines by UDP Glucuronosyltransferases

Tingting Cai, Lihua Yao, Robert J. Turesky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


2-Amino-9H-pyrido[2,3-b]indole (AαC) and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) are carcinogenic heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAA) that arise during the burning of tobacco and cooking of meats. UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGT) detoxicate many procarcinogens and their metabolites. The genotoxic N-hydroxylated metabolite of AαC, 2-hydroxyamino-9H-pyrido[2,3-b]indole (HONH-AαC), undergoes glucuronidation to form the isomeric glucuronide (Gluc) conjugates N2-(β-d-glucosidurony1)-2-hydroxyamino-9H-pyrido[2,3-b]indole (AαC-HON2-Gluc) and O-(β-d-glucosidurony1)-2-hydroxyamino-9H-pyrido[2,3-b]indole (AαC-HN2-O-Gluc). AαC-HON2-Gluc is a stable metabolite but AαC-HN2-O-Gluc is a biologically reactive intermediate, which covalently adducts to DNA at levels that are 20-fold higher than HONH-AαC. We measured the rates of formation of AαC-HON2-Gluc and AαC-HN2-O-Gluc in human organs: highest activity occurred with liver and kidney microsomes, and lesser activity was found with colon and rectum microsomes. AαC-HN2-O-Gluc formation was largely diminished in liver and kidney microsomes, by niflumic acid, a selective inhibitor UGT1A9. In contrast, AαC-HON2-Gluc formation was less affected and other UGT contribute to N2-glucuronidation of HONH-AαC. UGT were reported to catalyze the formation of isomeric Gluc conjugates at the N2 and N3 atoms of 2-hydroxyamino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (HONH-PhIP), the genotoxic metabolite of PhIP. However, we found that the N3-Gluc of HONH-PhIP also covalently bound to DNA at higher levels than HONH-PhIP. The product ion spectra of this Gluc conjugate acquired by ion trap mass spectrometry revealed that the Gluc moiety was linked to the oxygen atom of HONH-PhIP and not the N3 imidazole atom of the oxime tautomer of HONH-PhIP as was originally proposed. UGT1A9, an abundant UGT isoform expressed in human liver and kidney, preferentially forms the O-linked Gluc conjugates of HONH-AαC and HONH-PhIP as opposed to their detoxicated N2-Gluc isomers. The regioselective O-glucuronidation of HONH-AαC and HONH-PhIP, by UGT1A9, is a mechanism of bioactivation of these ubiquitous HAAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-891
Number of pages13
JournalChemical research in toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 16 2016


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