[1,2-14C]Oct-l-yne was used to investigate metabolic activation of the ethynyl substituent in vitro. Activation of octyne by liver microsomal cytochrome P-450-dependent enzymes gave intermediate(s) that bound covalently to protein, DNA and to haem. The time course and extent of covalent binding of octyne to haem and to protein were similar. However, two different activating mechanisms are probably involved. Whereas covalent binding to protein or to DNA was inhibited by nucleophiles such as N-acetylcysteine, that to haem was little affected. When N-acetylcysteine was included in the reaction mixtures, two major octyne-N-acetylcysteine adducts were isolated and purified by high-pressure liquid chromatography. G.l.c.-mass spectrometry and n.m.r. suggest that these are the cis-trans isomers of S-3-oxo-oct-1-enyl-N-acetylcysteine. Oct-1-yn-3-one reacted non-enzymically with N-acetylcysteine at pH 7.4 and 37 degrees C with a t1/2 of about 6 s also to yield S-3-oxo-oct-l-enyl-N-acetylcysteine. The same product was formed when microsomal fractions were incubated with oct-1-yn-3-ol, N-acetylcysteine and NAD(P)+. Octyn-3-one did not appear to react with haem or protoporphyrin IX. 5. A mechanism for the metabolic activation of oct-1-yne is proposed, consisting in (a) microsomal hydroxylation of the carbon atom alpha to the acetylenic bond and (b) oxidation to yield octyn-3-one as the reactive species.

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