Deamination: Nitrous Acid as a mutagen

    Sodium Nitrate (NaNO3) is a common food additive that also forms naturally when meats are preserved by smoking. In the stomach, sodium nitrate is converted to nitrous acid (HNO2), which acts as a mutagen by deamination of the NH2 group of adenine and/or cytosine to an ether group, thus altering their base pairing.

    Sodium Nitrate is one of many chemicals which, although not directly mutagenic themselves, become mutagenic when metabolized. Standard mutagenicity tests (such as the Ames Test) [iGen 7.14]  simulate metabolism by mixing the chemicals with liver extracts .

All text material © 2011 by Steven M. Carr