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The NAT2 gene encodes for N-acetyltransferase 2 enzyme. It functions mainly in the liver and gut and needs to both activate and deactivate commonly found chemical compounds. During acetylation, Acetyl Co-A is attached to toxins to make them less harmful and easy to excrete. Acetylation is the principal degradation pathway for compounds containing aromatic amines (Aryl amines). In addition, NAT2 is involved in the acetylation of histamine (produced by a body part of an immune response) and breaking down caffeine. The primary caffeine metabolising gene is CYP1A2.

Associations with compromised acetylation:

  1. Disease risk association for cancer is highly dependent on environmental exposure.
  2. Fast acetylators exposed to xenobiotics becoming harmful when acetylated, is disadvantageous.
  3. Slow acetylators exposed to xenobiotics becoming harmless when acetylated would be disadvantageous.

N-acetyltransferase is a phase II detoxification enzyme that helps to metabolize aromatic amines, drugs, cigarette smoke, and carcinogens. Basically, it makes specific toxins more water-soluble so that they can be excreted through a process called acetylation.

Medium to high impact genetic variations in this gene means that you will be slower at acetylation. G and C genotypes in this gene are also associated with higher incidences of cancer and drug toxicity. Vitamin B5 acts as a nutrient cofactor to N-acetyltransferase together with the mineral molybdenum.