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Cysteine S-conjugate beta-lyases: important roles in the metabolism of naturally occurring sulfur and selenium-containing compounds, xenobiotics and anticancer agents

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2010
21 pages

This article examines recent findings regarding enzymes involved in amino acid metabolism with implications for toxologists, and concludes that the cysteine S-conjugate β-lyases are biologically more important than previously thought.


Cysteine S-conjugate β-lyases are pyridoxal 5′-phosphate-containing enzymes that catalyze β-elimination reactions with cysteine S-conjugates that possess a good leaving group in the β-position. The end products are aminoacrylate and a sulfur-containing fragment. The aminoacrylate tautomerizes and hydrolyzes to pyruvate and ammonia. The mammalian cysteine S-conjugate β-lyases thus far identified are enzymes involved in amino acid metabolism that catalyze β-lyase reactions as non-physiological side reactions. Most are aminotransferases. In some cases, the lyase is inactivated by reaction products. The cysteine S-conjugate β-lyases are of much interest to toxicologists because they play an important key role in the bioactivation (toxication) of halogenated alkenes, some of which are produced on an industrial scale and are environmental contaminants. Here, the authors focus on recent findings regarding: (1) the identification of enzymes associated with high-M r cysteine S-conjugate β-lyases in the cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions of rat liver and kidney; (2) the mechanism of syncatalytic inactivation of rat liver mitochondrial aspartate aminotransferase by the nephrotoxic β-lyase substrate S-(1,1,2,2-tetrafluoroethyl)-L-cysteine (the cysteine S-conjugate of tetrafluoroethylene); (3) toxicant channeling of reactive fragments from the active site of mitochondrial aspartate aminotransferase to susceptible proteins in the mitochondria; (4) the involvement of cysteine S-conjugate β-lyases in the metabolism/bioactivation of drugs and natural products; and (5) the role of cysteine S-conjugate β-lyases in the metabolism of selenocysteine Se-conjugates. This review emphasizes the fact that the cysteine S-conjugate β-lyases are biologically more important than hitherto appreciated. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: March 1, 2010