Oxidative alteration of mitochondrial cytochrome c (cyt c) has been linked to disease pathophysiology and is one of the causative factors for pro-apoptotic events. Hydrogen peroxide induces a short-lived cyt c-derived tyrosyl radical as detected by the electron spin resonance (ESR) spin-trapping technique. This investigation was undertaken to characterize the fate and consequences of the cyt c-derived tyrosyl radical. The direct ESR spectrum from the reaction of cyt c with H2O2 revealed a single-line signal with a line width of ∼10 G. The detected ESR signal could be prevented by pretreatment of cyt c with iodination, implying that the tyrosine residue of cyt c was involved. The ESR signal can be enhanced and stabilized by a divalent metal ion such as Zn2+, indicating the formation of the protein tyrosine ortho-semiquinone radical (ToQ.-). The production of cyt c-derived ToQ.- is inhibited by the spin trap, 2-methyl-2-nitrosopropane (MNP), suggesting the participation of tyrosyl radical in the formation of the ortho-semiquinone radical. The endothelium relaxant factor nitric oxide is well known to mediate mitochondrial respiration and apoptosis. The consumption of NO by cyt c was enhanced by addition of H 2O2 as verified by inhibition electrochemical detection using an NO electrode. The rate of NO consumption in the system containing cyt c/NO/H2O2 was decreased by the spin traps 5,5-dimethyl pyrroline N-oxide and MNP, suggesting NO trapping of the cyt c-derived tyrosyl radical. The above result was further confirmed by NO quenching of the ESR signal of the MNP adduct of cyt c tyrosyl radical. Immunoblotting analysis of cyt c after exposure to NO in the presence of H2O2 revealed the formation of 3-nitrotyrosine. The addition of superoxide dismutase did not change the cyt c nitration, indicating that it is peroxynitrite-independent. The results of this study may provide useful information in understanding the interconnection among cyt c, H 2O2, NO, and apoptosis.
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