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FEBS Lett. 1999 Jan 25;443(2):117-20.

Irreversible conversion of xanthine dehydrogenase into xanthine oxidase by a mitochondrial protease.

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Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Research Laboratory, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Irreversible conversion of xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH) to its oxygen free radical producing oxidase (XO) form occurs through an uncharacterized proteolytic process, which was studied in human liver. Upon incubation of fresh unfrozen liver cytosol, XDH remained intact. When recombinant human XDH was coincubated with subcellular fractions of human liver, the mitochondrial intermembrane space was shown to contain a heat-labile activity that converted XDH irreversibly to XO. This activity is resistant to inhibitors of all major groups of proteases. We postulate that this novel type of proteolytic enzyme is released into the cytosol upon mitochondrial damage.

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