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J Biol Chem. 2013 Aug 2;288(31):22408-25. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.482679. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

Generating S-nitrosothiols from hemoglobin: mechanisms, conformational dependence, and physiological relevance.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


In vitro, ferrous deoxy-hemes in hemoglobin (Hb) react with nitrite to generate nitric oxide (NO) through a nitrite reductase reaction. In vivo studies indicate Hb with nitrite can be a source of NO bioactivity. The nitrite reductase reaction does not appear to account fully for this activity because free NO is short lived especially within the red blood cell. Thus, the exporting of NO bioactivity both out of the RBC and over a large distance requires an additional mechanism. A nitrite anhydrase (NA) reaction in which N2O3, a potent S-nitrosating agent, is produced through the reaction of NO with ferric heme-bound nitrite has been proposed (Basu, S., Grubina, R., Huang, J., Conradie, J., Huang, Z., Jeffers, A., Jiang, A., He, X., Azarov, I., Seibert, R., Mehta, A., Patel, R., King, S. B., Hogg, N., Ghosh, A., Gladwin, M. T., and Kim-Shapiro, D. B. (2007) Nat. Chem. Biol. 3, 785-794) as a possible mechanism. Legitimate concerns, including physiological relevance and the nature of the mechanism, have been raised concerning the NA reaction. This study addresses these concerns demonstrating NO and nitrite with ferric hemes under near physiological conditions yield an intermediate having the properties of the purported NA heme-bound N2O3 intermediate. The results indicate that ferric heme sites, traditionally viewed as a source of potential toxicity, can be functionally significant, especially for partially oxygenated/partially met-R state Hb that arises from the NO dioxygenation reaction. In the presence of low levels of nitrite and either NO or a suitable reductant such as L-cysteine, these ferric heme sites can function as a generator for the formation of S-nitrosothiols such as S-nitrosoglutathione and, as such, should be considered as a source of RBC-derived and exportable bioactive NO.


Allosteric Regulation; Glutathione; Hemoglobin; Nitric Oxide; Redox Regulation

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