Although previous investigations have clearly shown that N-hydroxy arylamines and N-hydroxy heterocyclic amines are substrates for sulfotransferases, relatively little is known about which structural features of the N-hydroxy arylamines are important for sulfation to occur. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the extent to which secondary N-alkyl-N-hydroxy arylamines interact with aryl sulfotransferase (AST) IV (also known as tyrosine-ester sulfotransferase or ST1A1) and to evaluate these interactions using molecular modeling techniques. AST IV is a major cytosolic sulfotransferase in the rat, and it catalyzes the sulfation of various phenols, benzylic alcohols, arylhydroxamic acids, oximes, and primary N-hydroxy arylamines. In this study, three secondary N-hydroxy arylamines, N-hydroxy-N-methylaniline, N-ethyl-N-hydroxyaniline, and N-hydroxy-N-n-propylaniline, were found to be substrates for the purified rat hepatic AST IV. However, when the N-alkyl substituent was an n-butyl group (i.e., N-n-butyl-N-hydroxyaniline), the interaction with the enzyme changed from that of a substrate to competitive inhibition. This change in specificity was further explored through the construction and use of a model for AST IV based on mouse estrogen sulfotransferase, an enzyme whose crystal structure has been previously determined to high resolution. Molecular modeling techniques were used to dock each of the above N-hydroxy arylamines into the active site of the homology model of AST IV and determine optimum ligand geometries. The results of these experiments indicated that steric constraints on the orientation of binding of secondary N-alkyl-N-hydroxy arylamines at the active site of AST IV play a significant role in determining the nature of the interaction of the enzyme with these compounds.
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