Covalent modifications of intracellular proteins, such as phosphorylation, are generally thought to occur as secondary or tertiary responses to neurotransmitters, following the intermediation of membrane receptors and second messengers such as cyclic AMP. By contrast, the gasotransmitter nitric oxide directly S-nitrosylates cysteine residues in diverse intracellular proteins. Recently, hydrogen sulfide has been acknowledged as a gasotransmitter, which analogously sulfhydrates cysteine residues in proteins. Cysteine residues are also modified by palmitoylation in response to neurotransmitter signaling, possibly in reciprocity with S-nitrosylation. Neurotransmission also elicits sumoylation and acetylation of lysine residues within diverse proteins. This review addresses how these recently appreciated protein modifications impact our thinking about ways in which neurotransmission regulates intracellular protein disposition.
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