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ACS Chem Biol. 2013;8(6):1110-6. doi: 10.1021/cb4001052. Epub 2013 Apr 12.

Persulfide reactivity in the detection of protein s-sulfhydration.

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Department of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute , Jupiter, Florida 33456, United States.


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has emerged as a new member of the gaseous transmitter family of signaling molecules and appears to play a regulatory role in the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Recent studies suggest that protein cysteine S-sulfhydration may function as a mechanism for transforming the H2S signal into a biological response. However, selective detection of S-sulfhydryl modifications is challenging since the persulfide group (RSSH) exhibits reactivity akin to other sulfur species, especially thiols. A modification of the biotin switch technique, using S-methyl methanethiosulfonate (MMTS) as an alkylating reagent, was recently used to identify a large number of proteins that may undergo S-sulfhydration, but the underlying mechanism of chemical detection was not fully explored. To address this key issue, we have developed a protein persulfide model and analogue of MMTS, S-4-bromobenzyl methanethiosulfonate (BBMTS). Using these new reagents, we investigated the chemistry in the modified biotin switch method and examined the reactivity of protein persulfides toward different electrophile/nucleophile species. Together, our data affirm the nucleophilic properties of the persulfide sulfane sulfur and afford new insights into protein S-sulfhydryl chemistry, which may be exploited in future detection strategies.

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