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The biology of lysine acetylation integrates transcriptional programming and metabolism

Jigneshkumar Patel, Ravi R Pathak and Shiraz Mujtaba*

Author Affiliations

Department of Structural and Chemical Biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York, NY 10029 USA

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2011, 8:12  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-8-12

Published: 3 March 2011


The biochemical landscape of lysine acetylation has expanded from a small number of proteins in the nucleus to a multitude of proteins in the cytoplasm. Since the first report confirming acetylation of the tumor suppressor protein p53 by a lysine acetyltransferase (KAT), there has been a surge in the identification of new, non-histone targets of KATs. Added to the known substrates of KATs are metabolic enzymes, cytoskeletal proteins, molecular chaperones, ribosomal proteins and nuclear import factors. Emerging studies demonstrate that no fewer than 2000 proteins in any particular cell type may undergo lysine acetylation. As described in this review, our analyses of cellular acetylated proteins using DAVID 6.7 bioinformatics resources have facilitated organization of acetylated proteins into functional clusters integral to cell signaling, the stress response, proteolysis, apoptosis, metabolism, and neuronal development. In addition, these clusters also depict association of acetylated proteins with human diseases. These findings not only support lysine acetylation as a widespread cellular phenomenon, but also impel questions to clarify the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms governing target selectivity by KATs. Present challenges are to understand the molecular basis for the overlapping roles of KAT-containing co-activators, to differentiate between global versus dynamic acetylation marks, and to elucidate the physiological roles of acetylated proteins in biochemical pathways. In addition to discussing the cellular 'acetylome', a focus of this work is to present the widespread and dynamic nature of lysine acetylation and highlight the nexus that exists between epigenetic-directed transcriptional regulation and metabolism.