Reactive oxygen species are thought to play a role in a variety of physiologic and pathophysiological processes. One possible mediator of oxidant effects at the molecular level is a subset of proteins containing reactive cysteine thiols that can be readily oxidized. The transient incorporation of glutathione into cellular proteins is an established response to oxidant stress and could provide a mechanism for reversible covalent modification in response to reactive oxygen species. To better understand the function of protein S-glutathiolation in vivo, a biotinylated membrane-permeant analogue of glutathione, biotinylated glutathione ethyl ester, was developed and used to detect proteins into which glutathione is incorporated under oxidant stress. Oxidant stress from exogenous hydrogen peroxide or generated in response to TNF-α was found to increase incorporation of biotinylated glutathione ethyl ester into several HeLa cell proteins. The identity of two of these proteins was determined by peptide sequencing and mass spectrometric peptide mapping. A 23 kDa S-glutathiolated protein was identified as thioredoxin peroxidase II, a member of the peroxiredoxin family of peroxidases known to play a role in redox-dependent growth factor and cytokine signal transduction. A second, 36 kDa, protein was identified as annexin II. Further investigation revealed a single reactive cysteine in the annexin II tail domain. Deletion of the identified cysteine was found to abolish S-glutathiolation of annexin II. These findings demonstrate a specific posttranslational modification associated with an endogenously generated oxidant stress and suggest a mechanism by which TNF-α might selectively regulate protein function in a redox-dependent fashion.
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