Spermidine/spermine-N1-acetyltransferase-2 (SSAT2) acetylates thialysine and is not involved in polyamine metabolism

Catherine S. Coleman, Bruce A. Stanley, A. Daniel Jones, Anthony E. Pegg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Spermidine/spermine-N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT1) is a short-lived polyamine catabolic enzyme inducible by polyamines and polyamine analogues. Induction of SSAT1 plays an important role in polyamine homoeostasis, since the N1-acetylated polyamines can be excreted or oxidized by acetylpolyamine oxidase. We have purified a recombinant human acetyltransferase (SSAT2) that shares 45% identity and 61% homology with human SSAT1, but is only distally related to other known members of the GNAT (GCN5-related N-acetyltransferase) family. Like SSAT1, SSAT2 is widely expressed, but did not turn over rapidly, and levels were unaffected by treatments with polyamine analogues. Despite similarity in sequence to SSAT1, polyamines were found to be poor substrates of purified SSAT2, having Km values in the low millimolar range and kcat values of <0.01 s-1. The kcat/Km values for spermine and spermidine for SSAT2 were <0.0003% those of SSAT1. Expression of SSAT2 in NIH-3T3 cells was not detrimental to growth, and did not reduce polyamine content or increase acetylpolyamines. These results indicate that SSAT2 is not a polyamine catabolic enzyme, and that polyamines are unlikely to be its natural intracellular substrates. A promising candidate for the physiological substrate of SSAT2 is thialysine [S-(2-aminoethyl)-L-cysteine], which is acetylated predominantly at the ε-amino group with Km and kcat values of 290 μM and 5.2 s-1. Thialysine is a naturally occurring modified amino acid that can undergo metabolism to form cyclic ketimine derivatives found in the brain and as urinary metabolites, which can undergo further reaction to form antioxidants. SSAT2 should be renamed 'thialysine Nε-acetyltransferase', and may regulate this pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 15 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Spermidine/spermine-N1-acetyltransferase-2 (SSAT2) acetylates thialysine and is not involved in polyamine metabolism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this