While patulin has been found to exhibit cellular toxicity in in vivo and in vitro tests, the mechanisms of cellular toxicity are not clear. Patulin alters the plasma membrane functions in cultured LLC-PK1 renal cells through an inhibition of Na+-K+ ATPase [51,52]. The compound also inhibits several key biosynthetic enzymes including RNA polymerase and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases . Due to its electrophilic nature, patulin reacts readily with cellular nucleophiles such as the sulfhydryl-containing compounds cysteine and glutathione . The mode of action of patulin may be through oxidation of critical sulfhydryl groups in cell membranes or in enzymes . Patulin adducts formed with cysteine or glutathione were less toxic than the unmodified compound in acute toxicity, teratogenicity, and mutagenicity studies [40,54]
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