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      Arsenic detoxification and evolution of trimethylarsine gas by a microbial arseniteS-adenosylmethionine methyltransferase

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          Abstract

          In this article, a mechanism of arsenite [As(III)]resistance through methylation and subsequent volatization is described. Heterologous expression of arsM from Rhodopseudomonas palustris was shown to confer As(III) resistance to an arsenic-sensitive strain of Escherichia coli. ArsM catalyzes the formation of a number of methylated intermediates from As(III), with trimethylarsine as the end product. The net result is loss of arsenic, from both the medium and the cells. Because ArsM homologues are widespread in nature, this microbial-mediated transformation is proposed to have an important impact on the global arsenic cycle.

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          Most cited references 31

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          A Broad Host Range Mobilization System for In Vivo Genetic Engineering: Transposon Mutagenesis in Gram Negative Bacteria

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            Many paths to methyltransfer: a chronicle of convergence.

            S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet) dependent methyltransferases (MTases) are involved in biosynthesis, signal transduction, protein repair, chromatin regulation and gene silencing. Five different structural folds (I-V) have been described that bind AdoMet and catalyze methyltransfer to diverse substrates, although the great majority of known MTases have the Class I fold. Even within a particular MTase class the amino-acid sequence similarity can be as low as 10%. Thus, the structural and catalytic requirements for methyltransfer from AdoMet appear to be remarkably flexible.
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              Comparative toxicity of trivalent and pentavalent inorganic and methylated arsenicals in rat and human cells.

              Biomethylation is considered a major detoxification pathway for inorganic arsenicals (iAs). According to the postulated metabolic scheme, the methylation of iAs yields methylated metabolites in which arsenic is present in both pentavalent and trivalent forms. Pentavalent mono- and dimethylated arsenicals are less acutely toxic than iAs. However, little is known about the toxicity of trivalent methylated species. In the work reported here the toxicities of iAs and trivalent and pentavalent methylated arsenicals were examined in cultured human cells derived from tissues that are considered a major site for iAs methylation (liver) or targets for carcinogenic effects associated with exposure to iAs (skin, urinary bladder, and lung). To characterize the role of methylation in the protection against toxicity of arsenicals, the capacities of cells to produce methylated metabolites were also examined. In addition to human cells, primary rat hepatocytes were used as methylating controls. Among the arsenicals examined, trivalent monomethylated species were the most cytotoxic in all cell types. Trivalent dimethylated arsenicals were at least as cytotoxic as trivalent iAs (arsenite) for most cell types. Pentavalent arsenicals were significantly less cytotoxic than their trivalent analogs. Among the cell types examined, primary rat hepatocytes exhibited the greatest methylation capacity for iAs followed by primary human hepatocytes, epidermal keratinocytes, and bronchial epithelial cells. Cells derived from human bladder did not methylate iAs. There was no apparent correlation between susceptibility of cells to arsenic toxicity and their capacity to methylate iAs. These results suggest that (1) trivalent methylated arsenicals, intermediary products of arsenic methylation, may significantly contribute to the adverse effects associated with exposure to iAs, and (2) high methylation capacity does not protect cells from the acute toxicity of trivalent arsenicals.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                PNAS
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                February 14 2006
                February 14 2006
                February 14 2006
                February 01 2006
                : 103
                : 7
                : 2075-2080
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.0506836103
                1413689
                16452170
                © 2006

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