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J Biol Chem. 1999 Oct 8;274(41):28983-90.

Biochemical characterization of S-nitrosohemoglobin. Mechanisms underlying synthesis, no release, and biological activity.

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  • 1Centre for Clinical Pharmacology, University College London, 5 University Street, London WC1E 6JJ, United Kingdom.


S-Nitrosohemoglobin (SNO-Hb) has been suggested to act as an endogenous NO donor and physiological regulator of blood pressure. However, the mechanisms responsible for the formation of SNO-Hb and those underlying the release of NO and subsequent biological activity have yet to be elucidated. In the present study, a number of nitrosated oxyhemoglobin (HbO(2)) derivatives have been synthesized and characterized. HbO(2) can be nitrosated at up to three distinct residues, one in the alpha-globin chain and two in the beta-chain. A beta-chain mononitrosated species (designated "SNO-Hb"), generated by the reaction of HbO(2) and S-nitrosoglutathione, released NO via a thiol-dependent mechanism involving nucleophilic attack at the nitrosated thiol functionality of SNO-Hb; in the case of glutathione, this process was associated with the formation of a mixed disulfide. In contrast, multinitrosated hemoglobin species released NO and relaxed vascular smooth muscle by a thiol-independent mechanism. HbO(2) scavenged potently NO released from SNO-Hb and inhibited its vasorelaxant properties. These data show that the predominant vasoactive species released from SNO-Hb is NO, with HNO a putative intermediate; the presence of a low molecular weight thiol is a prerequisite for this process. Such observations have important implications for the generation, metabolic fate, and biological activity of S-nitrosothiols.

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