Macrophage cytotoxicity: role for L-arginine deiminase and imino nitrogen oxidation to nitrite

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Science  23 Jan 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4787, pp. 473-476
DOI: 10.1126/science.2432665


Previous studies have shown that cytotoxic activated macrophages cause inhibition of DNA synthesis, of mitochondrial respiration, and of aconitase activity in tumor target cells. An L-arginine-dependent biochemical pathway synthesizing L-citrulline and nitrite, coupled to an effector mechanism, is now shown to cause this pattern of metabolic inhibition. Murine cytotoxic activated macrophages synthesize L-citrulline and nitrite in the presence of L-arginine but not D-arginine. L-Citrulline and nitrite biosynthesis by cytotoxic activated macrophages is inhibited by NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, which also inhibits this cytotoxic effector mechanism. This activated macrophage cytotoxic effector system is associated with L-arginine deiminase activity, and the imino nitrogen removed from the guanido group of L-arginine by the deiminase reaction subsequently undergoes oxidation to nitrite. L-Homoarginine, an alternative substrate for this deiminase, is converted to L-homocitrulline with concurrent nitrite synthesis and similar biologic effects.

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