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Biochemistry. 2008 May 13;47(19):5465-79. doi: 10.1021/bi800303h. Epub 2008 Apr 18.

Regulatory control of human cytosolic branched-chain aminotransferase by oxidation and S-glutathionylation and its interactions with redox sensitive neuronal proteins.

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  • 1Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Coldharbor Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY, UK.


Redox regulation of proteins through oxidation and S-thiolation are important regulatory processes, acting in both a protective and adaptive role in the cell. In the current study, we investigated the sensitivity of the neuronal human cytosolic branched-chain aminotransferase (hBCATc) protein to oxidation and S-thiolation, with particular attention focused on functionality and modulation of its CXXC motif. Thiol specific reagents showed significant redox cycling between the reactive thiols and the TNB anion, and using NEM, four of the six reactive thiols are critical to the functionality of hBCATc. Site-directed mutagenesis studies supported these findings where a reduced kcat (ranging from 50-70% of hBCATc) for C335S, C338S, C335/8S, and C221S, respectively, followed by a modest effect on C242S was observed. However, only the thiols of the CXXC motif (C335 and C338) were directly involved in the reversible redox regulation of hBCATc through oxidation (with a loss of 40-45% BCAT activity on air oxidation alone). Concurrent with these findings, under air oxidation, the X-ray crystallography structure of hBCATc showed a disulphide bond between C335 and C338. Further oxidation of the other four thiols was not evident until levels of hydrogen peroxide were elevated. S-thiolation experiments of hBCATc exposed to GSH provided evidence for significant recycling between GSH and the thiols of hBCATc, which implied that under reducing conditions GSH was operating as a thiol donor with minimal S-glutathionylation. Western blot analysis of WT hBCATc and mutant proteins showed that as the ratio of GSH:GSSG decreased significant S-glutathionylation occurred (with a further loss of 20% BCAT activity), preferentially at the thiols of the CXXC motif, suggesting a shift in function toward a more protective role for GSH. Furthermore, the extent of S-glutathionylation increased in response to oxidative stress induced by hydrogen peroxide potentially through a C335 sulfenic acid intermediate. Deglutathionylation of hBCATc-SSG using the GSH/glutaredoxin system provides evidence that this protein may play an important role in cellular redox regulation. Moreover, redox associations between hBCATc and several neuronal proteins were identified using targeted proteomics. Thus, our data provides strong evidence that the reactive thiol groups, in particular the thiols of the CXXC motif, play an integral role in redox regulation and that hBCATc has redox mediated associations with several neuronal proteins involved in G-protein cell signaling, indicating a novel role for hBCATc in cellular redox control.

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