Tryptophan oxidation in proteins exposed to thiocyanate-derived oxidants

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Human defensive peroxidases, including lactoperoxidase (LPO) and myeloperoxidase (MPO), are capable of catalyzing the oxidation of halides (X(-)) by H2O2 to give hypohalous acids (HOX) for the purpose of cellular defense. Substrate selectivity depends upon the relative abundance of the halides, but the pseudo-halide thiocyanate (SCN(-)) is a major substrate, and sometimes the exclusive substrate, of all defensive peroxidases in most physiologic fluids. The resulting hypothiocyanous acid (HOSCN) has been implicated in cellular damage via thiol oxidation. While thiols are believed to be the primary target of HOSCN in vivo, Trp residues have also been implicated as targets for HOSCN. However, the mechanism involved in HOSCN-mediated Trp oxidation was not established. Trp residues in proteins appeared to be susceptible to oxidation by HOSCN, whereas free Trp and Trp residues in small peptides were found to be unreactive. We show that HOSCN-induced Trp oxidation is dependent on pH, with oxidation of free Trp, and Trp-containing peptides observed when the pH is below 2. These conditions mimic those employed previously to precipitate proteins after treatment with HOSCN, which accounts for the discrepancy in the results reported for proteins versus free Trp and small peptides. The reactant in these cases may be thiocyanogen ((SCN)2), which is produced by comproportionation of HOSCN and SCN(-) at low pH. Reaction of thiocyanate-derived oxidants with protein Trp residues at low pH results in the formation of a number of oxidation products, including mono- and di-oxygenated derivatives, which are also formed with other hypohalous acids. Our data suggest that significant modification of Trp by HOSCN in vivo is likely to have limited biological relevance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

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