Efflux is by far the most common means of arsenic detoxification. Another mechanism is methylation catalyzed by a family of As(III) S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) methyltransferases (MTs) enzymes designated ArsM in microbes or AS3MT in higher eukaryotes. The protein sequence of more than 5000 AS3MT/ArsM orthologues were deposited in the NCBI database, primarily in prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes. As(III) SAM MTs are members of a large superfamily of MTs involved in numerous physiological functions. ArsMs detoxify arsenic by conversion of inorganic trivalent arsenic (As(III)) into mono-, di- and trimethylated species that may be more toxic and carcinogenic than inorganic arsenic. The pathway of methylation remains controversial. Several hypotheses are examined in this review.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Environmental Science(all)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)