Like humans, mice exhibit polymorphism in the N-acetylation of aromatic amines, many of which are toxic and/or carcinogenic. Mice have three N-acetyltransferase (Nat) genes, Nat 1, Nat 2 and Nat 3, and Nat 2 is known to be polymorphic. There is a dramatic difference in the acetylation of NAT2 substrates by blood from fast (C57BL/6J) compared with slow acetylator (A/J) mice. However, the acetylation of these substrates by liver cytosols from the two strains is very similar. In order to determine whether the expression of the NAT2 protein corresponded with the activities measured, a polyclonal antipeptide antisera was raised against the C-terminal decapeptide of NAT2 and characterized using recombinant murine NAT2 antigen. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) demonstrated that the anti-NAT2 antiserum bound in a concentrationdependent fashion to recombinant NAT2. Immunochemical analysis of mouse liver cytosols from C57BL/6J or A/J livers indicated that the level of NAT2 protein expressed in the two strains was similar. Immunohistochemical staining of C57BL/6J liver with anti-NAT2 antiserum showed that NAT2 was expressed in hepatocytes throughout the liver although the intensity of staining in the perivenous (centrilobular) region was higher than that in the periportal region. NAT2 was also detected in epithelial cells in the lung, kidney, bladder, small intestine and skin as well as in erythrocytes and lymphocytes in the spleen and hair follicles and sebaceous glands in the skin. Characterization of the distribution of NAT2 will be of value in elucidating the role of polymorphic N-acetylation in protecting the organism from environmental insults as well as in endogenous metabolism.
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