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J Biol Chem. 2002 Nov 8;277(45):42680-5. Epub 2002 Sep 3.

A novel enhancing mechanism for hydrogen sulfide-producing activity of cystathionine beta-synthase.

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National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, 4-1-1 Ogawahigashi, Kodaira, Tokyo 187-8551, Japan.


H2S is produced from cysteine by cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) in the brain and functions as a neuromodulator. Although the production of H2S is regulated by Ca2+ and calmodulin in response to neuronal excitation, little is known about the molecular mechanism for the regulation in CBS activity. Here we show that four cysteine residues of CBS are involved in the regulation of its activity in the presence of Ca2+ and calmodulin. Sodium nitroprusside (SNP), a modifying agent for cysteine residues, enhances CBS activity, whereas N-ethylmaleimide, an alkylating agent for cysteine residues, completely abolished the effect of SNP. Site-directed mutagenesis of the 13 cysteine residues of CBS identified four cysteine residues that are involved in the regulation of CBS activity by SNP, and two of the four residues are involved in the regulation of the basal CBS activity. The enhancement of CBS activity by SNP is independent of nitric oxide production. In the presence of Staphylococcus aureus alpha-hemolysin, which permeabilizes the cell membrane, exogenously applied SNP enhances the activity of CBS in intact cells. The present study demonstrates a novel mechanism for the regulation of CBS activity and provides a possible therapeutic application of SNP for the diseases in which CBS activity is deficient.

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