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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1366. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2371.

A novel pathway for the production of hydrogen sulfide from D-cysteine in mammalian cells.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, National Institute of Neuroscience, 4-1-1 Ogawahigashi, Kodaira, Tokyo 187-8502, Japan.


In eukaryotes, hydrogen sulphide acts as a signalling molecule and cytoprotectant. Hydrogen sulphide is known to be produced from L-cysteine by cystathionine β-synthase, cystathionine γ-lyase and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase coupled with cysteine aminotransferase. Here we report an additional biosynthetic pathway for the production of hydrogen sulphide from D-cysteine involving 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase and D-amino acid oxidase. Unlike the L-cysteine pathway, this D-cysteine-dependent pathway operates predominantly in the cerebellum and the kidney. Our study reveals that administration of D-cysteine protects primary cultures of cerebellar neurons from oxidative stress induced by hydrogen peroxide and attenuates ischaemia-reperfusion injury in the kidney more than L-cysteine. This study presents a novel pathway of hydrogen sulphide production and provides a new therapeutic approach to deliver hydrogen sulphide to specific tissues.

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