- Mammalian cells synthesize H2S from sulfur-containing amino acids and are also exposed to exogenous sources of this signaling molecule, notably from gut microbes. As an inhibitor of complex IV in the electron transport chain, H2S can have a profound impact on metabolism, suggesting the hypothesis that metabolic reprogramming is a primary mechanism by which H2S signals. In this study, we report that H2S increases lipogenesis in many cell types, using carbon derived from glutamine rather than from glucose.
- Hydrogen sulfide is synthesized by enzymes involved in sulfur metabolism and oxidized via a dedicated mitochondrial pathway that intersects with the electron transport chain at the level of complex III. Studies with H2S are challenging since it is volatile and also reacts with oxidized thiols in the culture medium, forming sulfane sulfur species. The half-life of exogenously added H2S to cultured cells is unknown. In this study, we first examined the half-life of exogenously added H2S to human colonic epithelial cells.
- Unlike most other tissues, the colon epithelium is exposed to high levels of H2S derived from gut microbial metabolism. H2S is a signaling molecule that modulates various physiological effects. It is also a respiratory toxin that inhibits complex IV in the electron transfer chain (ETC). Colon epithelial cells are adapted to high environmental H2S exposure as they harbor an efficient mitochondrial H2S oxidation pathway, which is dedicated to its disposal. Herein, we report that the sulfide oxidation pathway enzymes are apically localized in human colonic crypts at the host–microbiome interface, but that the normal apical-to-crypt gradient is lost in colorectal cancer epithelium.