Molecular Genetics and Genomics

, Volume 293, Issue 5, pp 1279–1292 | Cite as

Analyses of the genetic diversity and protein expression variation of the acyl: CoA medium-chain ligases, ACSM2A and ACSM2B

  • Rencia van der Sluis
Original Article


Benzoate (found in milk and widely used as preservative), salicylate (present in fruits and the active component of aspirin), dietary polyphenols produced by gut microbiota, metabolites from organic acidemias, and medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are all metabolised/detoxified by the glycine conjugation pathway. Xenobiotics are first activated to an acyl-CoA by the mitochondrial xenobiotic/medium-chain fatty acid: CoA ligases (ACSMs) and subsequently conjugated to glycine by glycine N-acyltransferase (GLYAT). The MCFAs are activated to acyl-CoA by the ACSMs before entering mitochondrial β-oxidation. This two-step enzymatic pathway has, however, not been thoroughly investigated and the biggest gap in the literature remains the fact that studies continuously characterise the pathway as a one-step reaction. There are no studies available on the interaction/competition of the various substrates involved in the pathway, whilst very little research has been done on the ACSM ligases. To identify variants/haplotypes that should be characterised in future detoxification association studies, this study assessed the naturally observed sequence diversity and protein expression variation of ACSM2A and ACSM2B. The allelic variation, haplotype diversity, Tajima’s D values, and phylogenetic analyses indicated that ACSM2A and ACSM2B are highly conserved. This confirmed an earlier hypothesis that the glycine conjugation pathway is highly conserved and essential for life as it maintains the CoA and glycine homeostasis in the liver mitochondria. The protein expression analyses showed that ACSM2A is the predominant transcript in liver. Future studies should investigate the effect of the variants identified in this study on the substrate specificity of these proteins.


Xenobiotic/medium-chain fatty acid: CoA ligases ACSM2A ACSM2B Benzoate Salicylate Medium-chain fatty acids Glycine conjugation 



Research reported in this publication was supported by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) under a Self-Initiated Research Grant. This work is based on the research supported in part by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF) for the Grant, Unique Grant no. 99323. Any opinion, finding, and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material is that of the author and the NRF and/or MRC does not accept any liability in this regard.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Metabolomics, Biochemistry DivisionNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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