Reactions of the melatonin metabolite N1-acetyl-5-methoxykynuramine (AMK) with the tyrosine side-chain fragment, 4-ethylphenol

Alexandra Nowak, Hafizur Rahman, Christina Heer, Anna Schueth, Hartmut Laatsch, Rüdiger Hardeland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The melatonin metabolite N(1)-acetyl-5-methoxykynuramine (AMK) has previously been shown to interact with various free radicals. Using the ABTS cation radical [ABTS = 2,2'-azino-bis-(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid)] as an electron abstracting reactant, which does not destroy the aromate, we found that the reactive intermediate derived from AMK strongly interacts with the benzene rings of other AMK molecules to form di- and oligomers. Since oligomerization is rather unlikely at physiological concentrations, we investigated reactions with other putative reaction partners. The incubation of tyrosine or several of its structural analogs with AMK in the presence of the ABTS cation radical led to numerous products, amongst which were compounds not detected when one of the educts was incubated with the ABTS cation radical alone. With tyrosine and most of its analogs, the number of products formed in the presence of AMK and ABTS cation radical was relatively high and included numerous oligomers. To optimize the yield of products of interest as well as their separation from other compounds, especially oligomers, we investigated the interaction with 4-ethylphenol, which represents the side chain of tyrosine lacking the carboxyl and amino residues of the amino acid, which otherwise can undergo additional reactions. A prominent product was chromatographically separated and analyzed by mass spectrometry [(+)-ESI-MS, (-)-ESI-MS, (+)-HRESI-MS], (1)H-NMR, and H,H-COSY correlations. The substance was identified as N-{3-[2'-(5''-ethyl-2''-hydroxyphenylamino)-5'-methoxyphenyl]-3-oxopropyl} acetamide. This chemically novel compound represents an adduct in which the amino nitrogen of AMK is attached to the C-2 atom of 4-ethylphenol, which corresponds to the C-3 atom in the benzene ring of tyrosine. This finding suggests that, upon interaction of AMK with an electron-abstracting radical, the kynuric intermediate may modify proteins at superficially accessible tyrosine residues. In fact, protein modification by an unidentified melatonin metabolite has been observed in an earlier study. The possibility of protein AMKylation may be of interest with regard to an eventual interference with tyrosine nitration or, more importantly, with tyrosine phosphorylation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-108
Number of pages7
JournalRedox Report
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidants/chemistry
  • Cations
  • Electrons
  • Free Radical Scavengers/chemistry
  • Free Radicals
  • Kinetics
  • Kynuramine/analogs & derivatives
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mass Spectrometry/methods
  • Melatonin/chemistry
  • Models, Chemical
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phenols/chemistry
  • Tyrosine/chemistry

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