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J Biol Chem. 1999 Feb 19;274(8):4924-33.

Mitochondrial phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase plays a major role in preventing oxidative injury to cells.

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School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kitasato University, 5-9-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108, Japan.


Phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (PHGPx) is synthesized as a long form (L-form; 23 kDa) and a short form (S-form; 20 kDa). The L-form contains a leader sequence that is required for transport to mitochondria, whereas the S-form lacks the leader sequence. A construct encoding the leader sequence of PHGPx tagged with green fluorescent protein was used to transfect RBL-2H3 cells, and the fusion protein was transported to mitochondria. The L-form of PHGPx was identified as the mitochondrial form of PHGPx and the S-form as the non-mitochondrial form of PHGPx since preferential enrichment of mitochondria for PHGPx was detected in M15 cells that overexpressed the L-form of PHGPx, whereas no similar enrichment was detected in L9 cells that overexpressed the S-form. Cell death caused by mitochondrial injury due to potassium cyanide (KCN) or rotenone (chemical hypoxia) was considerably suppressed in the M15 cells, whereas the L9 cells and control RBL-2H3 cells (S1 cells, transfected with the vector alone) succumbed to the cytotoxic effects of KCN. Flow cytometric analysis showed that mitochondrial PHGPx suppressed the generation of hydroperoxide, the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and the loss of plasma membrane integrity that are induced by KCN. Mitochondrial PHGPx might prevent changes in mitochondrial functions and cell death by reducing intracellular hydroperoxides. Mitochondrial PHGPx failed to protect M15 cells from mitochondrial injury by carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone, which directly reduces membrane potential without the generation of hydroperoxides. M15 cells were more resistant than L9 cells to cell death caused by direct damage to mitochondria and to extracellular oxidative stress. L9 cells were more resistant to tert-butylhydroperoxide than S1 cells, whereas resistance to t-butylhydroperoxide was even more pronounced in M15 cells than in L9 cells. These results suggest that mitochondria might be a target for intracellular and extracellular oxidative stress and that mitochondrial PHGPx, as distinct form non-mitochondrial PHGPx, might play a primary role in protecting cells from oxidative stress.

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