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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2004 Jan;286(1):H22-9. Epub 2003 Oct 2.

Aspects, mechanism, and biological relevance of mitochondrial protein nitration sustained by mitochondrial nitric oxide synthase.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Minnesota, 10 Univ. Dr., Duluth, MN 55812, USA.


The goal of this study was to explore the occurrence of nitrated proteins in mitochondria given that these organelles are endowed with a mitochondrial nitric oxide (NO.-) synthase and considering the important role that mitochondria have in energy metabolism. Our hypothesis is that nitration of proteins constitutes a posttranslational modification by which NO.- exhibits long-term effects above and beyond those bioregulatory ones mediated through the interaction with cytochrome c oxidase. Our studies are aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying the nitration of proteins in mitochondria and the biological significance of such a process in the cellular milieu. On promoting a sustained NO.- production by mitochondria, we investigated various aspects of protein nitration. Among them, the localization of nitrated proteins in mitochondrial subfractions, the identification of nitrated proteins through proteomic approaches, the characterization of affected pathways, and depiction of a target sequence. The biological relevance was analyzed by considering the turnover of native and nitrated proteins. In this regard, mitochondrial dysfunction, ensuing nitrative stress, may be envisioned as the result of accumulation of nitrated proteins, resulting from an overproduction of endogenous NO.- (this study), a failure in the proteolytic system to catabolize modified proteins, or a combination of both. Finally, this study allows one to gain understanding on the mechanism and nitrating species underlying mitochondrial protein nitration.

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