Identification ofN-acyl-fumonisin B1 as new cytotoxic metabolites of fumonisin mycotoxins

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Fumonisins are mycotoxins produced by Fusarium species. The predominant derivative, fumonisin B1 (FB1), occurs in food and feed and is of health concern due to its hepatotoxic and carcinogenic effects. However, the role of FB1 metabolites on the mechanism of the toxicity, the inhibition of the ceramide synthesis, is unknown. The aim of this study was to identify new fumonisin metabolites and to evaluate their cytotoxic potential.

Methods and results:

MS, molecular biology, and in vitro enzyme assays were used to investigate fumonisin metabolism in mammalian cells overexpressing human ceramide synthase (CerS) genes. N-acyl-FB1 derivatives were detected as new metabolites in cultured cells at levels of up to 10 pmol/mg of protein. The N-acylation of FB1 and hydrolyzed FB1 was analyzed in several cell lines, including cells overexpressing CerS. The acyl-chain length of the N-acyl fumonisins depends on the CerS isoform acylating them. The N-acyl fumonisins are more cytotoxic than the parent fumonisin B1.


The identification of N-acyl fumonisins with various acyl chain lengths together with the observed cytotoxicity of these compounds is a new aspect of fumonisin-related toxicity. Therefore, these new metabolites might play an important role in the mode of action of fumonisins.

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