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Discovery of unidentified protein functions is of biological importance because it often provides new paradigms for many research areas. Mammalian heme oxygenase (HO) enzyme catalyzes the O2-dependent degradation of heme into carbon monoxide (CO), iron, and biliverdin through numerous reaction intermediates. Here, we report that H2S, a gaseous signaling molecule, is part of a novel reaction pathway that drastically alters HO's products, reaction mechanism, and catalytic properties. Our prediction of this interplay is based on the unique reactivity of H2S with one of the HO intermediates. We found that in the presence of H2S, HO produces new linear tetrapyrroles, which we identified as isomers of sulfur-containing biliverdin (SBV), and that only H2S, but not GSH, cysteine, and polysulfides, induces SBV formation. As BV is converted to bilirubin (BR), SBV is enzymatically reduced to sulfur-containing bilirubin (SBR), which shares similar properties such as antioxidative effects with normal BR. SBR was detected in culture media of mouse macrophages, confirming the existence of this H2S-induced reaction in mammalian cells. H2S reacted specifically with a ferric verdoheme intermediate of HO, and verdoheme cleavage proceeded through an O2-independent hydrolysis-like mechanism. This change in activation mode diminished O2 dependence of the overall HO activity, circumventing the rate-limiting O2 activation of HO. We propose that H2S could largely affect O2 sensing by mammalian HO, which is supposed to relay hypoxic signals by decreasing CO output to regulate cellular functions. Moreover, the novel H2S-induced reaction identified here helps sustain HO's heme-degrading and antioxidant-generating capacity under highly hypoxic conditions.
cystathionine γ-lyase, and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase. Among the gaseous mediators, only H2S can be ionized in aqueous solution to exist mainly as its monoanion form (SH−) with negligible amounts of S2− present under physiological pH (pKa values for H2S and SH− are 7.0 and >17, respectively) (
). The SH− anion is known to possess high reducing ability and nucleophilicity. One of the most established targets of SH− is a cysteine residue of proteins to form persulfide (–SSH). Functions of target proteins such as ATP-dependent potassium (KATP) channels (
). Considering these unique reactivities, H2S could have further signaling targets, whose identification is crucial for the H2S biology. We have envisaged a new interplay of H2S within the gaseous mediator systems because of their tight interactions, especially in vasorelaxation and oxygen (O2) sensing. For instance, CO binding to a prosthetic heme of CBS inhibits the H2S synthesis to cause vasoconstriction in neurovascular units (
). These intricate interplays may be an inherent feature of the gaseous mediators and suggest the existence of further unidentified cross-talk. Here, we report that H2S opens a novel pathway of HO to produce a new heme catabolite.
The new HO reaction, termed an S-HO reaction hereafter, is predicted on the basis of mechanistic knowledge of HO catalysis as well as H2S reactivity. HO catalyzes degradation of heme into biliverdin (BV), ferrous iron, and CO by three successive monooxygenation steps via hydroxyheme and verdoheme intermediates (see Fig. 1A) (
). Among them, we have initially postulated the verdoheme intermediate, which may exist in either a ferric or ferrous state (Fig. S1), as a potential target of H2S. In the enzymatic reaction, the macrocycle of verdoheme is cleaved by reductive O2 activation on its central iron (
). Although the verdoheme hydrolysis proceeds only under physiologically irrelevant, strong alkaline conditions, we hypothesized that H2S efficiently promotes “thiolysis,” the hydrolysis-like ring cleavage (see Fig. 1A), because of its strong nucleophilicity even under physiological pH. As expected from the reaction design, the S-HO reaction is found to produce an unprecedented sulfur-containing biliverdin termed S-biliverdin (SBV). H2S reacts with ferric, but not ferrous, verdoheme with drastic modulation of the HO catalytic properties due to circumvention of the rate-limiting O2 reaction (Fig. 1).
Novel S-HO reaction under single-turnover condition
Effects of H2S on HO catalysis were first examined under single-turnover conditions where ferric heme complexed with rat HO-1 was converted once into products. In the absence of H2S, reduction of ferric heme–HO-1 by its physiological redox partner, NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (CPR), resulted in an intricate absorption spectral change to eventually afford BV having intense visible absorption around 688 nm (Fig. 2A) (
). Temporal emergence of sharp absorption at 641 nm is due to transient accumulation of CO-bound verdoheme (Fig. S1). In the presence of H2S, the starting heme complex showed a spectral shift typical for partial binding of H2S to the ferric heme iron (Fig. 2B) (
). The heme degradation with H2S proceeded through distinct intermediate(s) absorbing around 754 nm to yield product(s) having broader absorption at 697 nm. Although H2S hardly affected amounts of CO produced through the heme degradation (Fig. S4D), HPLC analysis detected two new products other than BV in the presence of H2S (Fig. 2D), whose absorption spectra are similar to each other but different from that of BV (Fig. S4A). Further product analysis identified these two new products as SBV regioisomers, 1-SBV and 19-SBV (Fig. 1B). Positive mass signals of the new products were both found at 599.24 (Fig. S4C), consistent with the SBV formula ([C33H34O5N4S + H+]+; calculated m/z, 599.23). Isotope labeling experiments revealed incorporation of one each atom of oxygen and sulfur into the new products, whereas BV accepts two oxygen atoms from O2 at the cleavage site (Table S1). 1-SBV and 19-SBV standards synthesized according to a previous report (
) (Figs. S2 and S3) are indistinguishable from the two new products in terms of the HPLC retention time (Fig. 2D) and absorption spectra (Fig. S4, A and B). These results strongly suggest H2S-dependent ring cleavage as hypothesized.
Formation and properties of SBR
In mammals, BV is rapidly reduced by biliverdin reductase (BVR) to a yellow pigment, bilirubin (BR; Fig. 1C and Fig. S4E). The single turnover reaction of the purified HO enzyme with additional BVR yielded BR having typical absorption around 462 nm (Fig. 2C). The SBV standards were also reduced by BVR to corresponding 1- and 19-SBR isomers (Fig. 1C), whose absorption peaks were observed around 530 nm to have distinct orange colors (Fig. S4, E–G). Structures of the SBR isomers were further confirmed by various product analyses (Fig. S5, A–C and Table S2). Due to the large red shifts of the absorption bands, the SBR formation under the single-turnover condition is easily visualized by an unusual shoulder around 530 nm (Fig. 2C). The single turnover rate slightly decreased in the presence of H2S as judged by absorbance increase either at 460 or 530 nm (approximately half; Fig. 2C).
SBR is also produced by a macrophage cell line, RAW264.7. This cell line is reported to secrete BR into cell culture media when incubated with hemin (
). Our HPLC analysis detected only BR as a product of the normal heme catabolism by RAW264.7 (Fig. 2E). Addition of H2S, however, resulted in the formation of the two SBR isomers as well as BR (Fig. 2E), assuring the progression of the S-HO reaction in mammalian cells.
The SBR isomers share similar properties with BR as expected from their structural similarity (Fig. 1C). Highly hydrophobic SBR and BR require bovine serum albumin (BSA) for their solubilization in neutral buffers. BR is known to be excreted into bile upon glucuronidation in liver (Fig. S5D) (
). Catalytic removal of radical species was suggested for BR and the SBR isomers in the 2,2′-azobis(2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride (AAPH) assay (Fig. S6), implying their comparable potencies as antioxidants.
Catalytic properties of the S-HO reaction
The H2S effects on HO catalytic properties were examined in the presence of BVR (
). As shown in Fig. 2F, the product ratio of total SBR over all three products (%SBR) rose as the H2S concentration increased (EC50 = 34 μm). To our surprise, the catalytic activity of HO-1 was severely suppressed by H2S (Fig. 2F; IC50 = 48 μm) despite its small effect on the single turnover rate (Fig. 2C). Although the EC50 and IC50 values are similar at the basal condition ([CPR] = 100 nm), these parameters showed distinct behavior when the CPR concentration was lowered to 20 nm (EC50 and IC50 = 9.6 and 200 μm, respectively). This observation reveals different mechanisms for the SBR induction and HO inhibition by H2S. It should also be noted that %SBR was saturated at ∼45% under normal air. Incomplete formation of SBR is due, at least in part, to an unexpected action of O2 because %SBR increased with lowering O2 concentrations (Fig. 2G). O2 dependence of the catalytic activity was also largely affected by H2S (Fig. 2G). The normal HO reaction without H2S was slowed down at O2 concentrations less than 130 μm due to the rate-limiting reaction of the ferrous verdoheme intermediate with O2 (Fig. 1A) (
). In contrast, very little O2 dependence was observed in the presence of H2S, consistent with circumvention of the slow O2-dependent ring cleavage (Fig. 1A).
Ferric verdoheme as a branch point intermediate
We finally examined reaction mechanism of the S-HO reaction. In our initial design, H2S was postulated to attack ferrous verdoheme (Fig. 1A); however, this intermediate showed negligible spectral change upon addition of H2S and CPR under anaerobic condition (Fig. S7A). Further O2 addition initiated the reaction but afforded only BR (Fig. S7A). Instead, more electrophilic ferric verdoheme, which was generated prior to the ferrous form (Fig. S1), was found to rapidly react with H2S. The H2S addition to ferric verdoheme diminished its characteristic absorption at 683 nm with appearance of featureless, “flat” absorption in a 600–800-nm range (Fig. 3A). Resulting intermediate X was reduced to yield a mixture of BR and SBR under normal air, whereas the SBR formation became dominant at lower O2 concentration (Fig. 3D), consistent with the O2 dependence of %SBR observed in the catalytic assay (Fig. 2G). Other HO intermediates generated prior to ferric verdoheme, including hydroxyheme (Fig. S1), did not react with H2S or only reversibly interacted to eventually afford the same intermediate X (Fig. S7, B–D). These results unambiguously identify ferric verdoheme as a branch point intermediate for the BV and SBV pathways of HO as shown in Fig. 4.
Conversion of ferric verdoheme to the intermediate X required approximately 1 molar eq of H2S (Fig. 3B). Mass analysis also revealed incorporation of one sulfur atom into ferric verdoheme (Fig. 3C and Fig. S9A). Apparent rate constants for the formation of X show pH-dependent transition with a pKa value of 7.0 (Fig. 3E). This change is attributed to ionization of H2S (pKa = 7.0) because no significant spectral change was observed for ferric verdoheme in this pH range. The alkaline form (SH−; 29 mm−1 s−1) was ∼300-fold more reactive than the acid form (H2S; 0.094 mm−1 s−1), indicating SH− as a major reactant. This conclusion rationally explains the low reactivity of other biological thiols. Glutathione (GSH), l-cysteine, and homocysteine, which have higher pKa values (9.7, 8.4, and 8.9, respectively), showed only limited reactivity with ferric verdoheme (Fig. S8B). Moreover, these alkyl thiols did not convert ferric verdoheme to X but reduced it to the ferrous state, leading to the normal BV pathway (Fig. S8A and Fig. 4). Similar simple reduction was also observed for sodium polysulfides (Na2S2, Na2S3, and Na2S4) as shown in Fig. S8, C and D. Therefore, H2S is the specific thiol that induces SBV formation.
Ring opening mechanism in the H2S-mediated reaction
Under anoxic conditions, reduction of the intermediate X dominantly produced SBR (Fig. 3D), strongly suggesting an O2-independent hydrolysis-like mechanism for the SBV production (Fig. 4). In this mechanism, nucleophilic addition of SH− to a β-pyrrole carbon atom of ferric verdoheme should be followed by deprotonation to cleave the macrocycle. A resulting Fe3+–SBV complex could be reduced by one electron to afford SBV with release of the ferrous iron. As expected from this scheme, the anoxic conversion of X to SBR consumed three electrons, two of which were utilized for reduction of SBV to SBR (Fig. 3F). In the presence of O2, the mechanism became more intricate to afford BV in addition to SBV. The BV formation from X required O2-induced extrusion of the sulfur atom. X itself has no reactivity with O2 as judged from the negligible O2 dependence of its absorption spectra (Fig. 3D). Instead, a reduced form of X may bind O2 on its central iron to liberate the SH− moiety. This putative reaction yielded oxyferrous verdoheme, which is an intermediate proposed in the normal HO reaction (Fig. 4) (
). The verdoheme regeneration from X is possible because pyridine extraction of X from the protein yielded a bispyridine complex of verdoheme (Fig. S9B). It should be also mentioned that one oxygen atom of O2 was inserted in the conversion of X to BV (Fig. S9C), consistent with the O2 activation on the verdoheme iron (
In this study, we report the new reaction pathway of mammalian HO induced by H2S. The gaseous signaling molecule drastically alters the reaction mechanism of HO not only to modulate the catalytic activity and its O2 dependence but also to produce the new sulfur-containing heme catabolites, 1- and 19-SBV isomers (Fig. 1). It is quite surprising that the classical HO enzyme, whose function and mechanism have been studied in detail over several decades, has an unidentified reaction pathway that is just now being revealed. Recently, noncanonical heme degradation has also been identified for a few bacterial enzymes; however, these enzymes are specifically designed to promote unusual reactions (
). We have succeeded in inducing the alternative reaction of the canonical HO enzyme by the rational selection of the small biological molecule to attack its reaction intermediate. H2S appears to have broad reactivities with many biological compounds. For example, heme is known to interact with H2S to cause catalytic oxidation of the sulfide (
). These reactions appear to be negligible upon induction of the S-HO reaction (Figs. 2B and 3B), probably due to the facile and specific reactivity of the HO intermediate with H2S. Our approach to target the enzyme intermediate thus allows identification of highly specific interactions and could be applied widely to search for hidden functions, especially of well-studied enzymes. Besides the SBV pathway, the HO reaction may branch into unidentified pathways at its numerous reactive intermediates (Fig. S1) by choosing other appropriate small molecules. Moreover, H2S could react with enzymes other than HO to bring out their unidentified reactions. To discover further unknown targets, possible effects of H2S should be extensively studied for reactions involving hydrolysis or a step replaceable with a hydrolysis-type reaction in addition to searching for electrophilic intermediates.
We have almost fully elucidated the formation mechanism of SBV. The SH− ion binds to ferric verdoheme and cleaves the macrocycle in an O2-independent manner. The only major ambiguity remaining is the nature of the observed intermediate X. The intermediate X generated in the reaction between ferric verdoheme and H2S can be either an SH−–adduct of verdoheme or an Fe3+–SBV complex (Fig. 4), both of which match the mass data (Fig. 3C and Fig. S9A). The SH−–adduct form well explains the O2-dependent SH− extrusion, whereas ring closure of Fe3+–SBV seems not to occur easily. Nevertheless, the absorption spectrum of X, especially its flat absorption in the visible region, is very similar to that of the Fe3+–BV complex (Fig. 3A and Fig. S9D) (
), strongly suggesting the Fe3+–SBV structure for X. The ring closure may proceed more easily than we expected to achieve equilibrium of the open and closed ring structures for X and/or its reduced form.
Successful detection of SBR assures that the S-HO reaction can take place in mammalian cells (Fig. 2E). Nevertheless, we cannot specify the H2S concentration required for the SBV induction (EC50) in vivo. Our mechanistic analysis identifies ferric verdoheme as a branch point intermediate for the normal and SBV pathways (Fig. 4). Because the SH− addition and reduction of ferric verdoheme are essentially irreversible, a major determinant of the EC50 value should be relative rates of the two competing reactions. Slower reduction by CPR hence results in the lowered EC50 value as shown for the in vitro assay. Some naturally occurring mutations of CPR are known to significantly suppress electron transfer to HO (
). The cytosolic HO enzyme could interact only weakly with CPR remaining on the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. The SBV formation could be enhanced under hypoxia because of the slow reduction as well as the low O2 concentration. Nonmammalian HOs with greater diversity in structure and reactivity may have larger deviations in the H2S requirement to stimulate the S-HO reaction. Even non-HO–type heme-degrading enzymes involving ferric verdoheme in their catalysis are possible targets of H2S (
). Our finding clearly indicates the necessity to take the possible interplay between H2S and heme degradation into account in all related research areas.
The new S-HO reaction could have large impacts on physiological functions of H2S and HO through drastic changes in both the product and catalytic activity of HO. Properties of the new heme catabolites have been examined mainly for their reduced form, SBR, which as well as BR should be the major form in mammalian cells. Although BR is crucial in mammals as a causative agent of jaundice and a potent antioxidant (
), SBR shows solubility, glucuronidation potency, and redox properties similar to those of BR (Figs. S5, D–G, and S6). This observation implies that H2S does not greatly alter antioxidative functions of the HO reaction in mammals. Biological roles of SBV are yet to be examined, especially in biosynthesis of phytochromes and photoreceptor proteins in plants, bacteria, and fungi, which utilize BV or its derivatives as a pigment for detecting red and far-red light (
Our catalytic assay reveals the O2-dependent change of the SBR production ratio (%SBR) due to the O2-induced return to the BV pathway (Figs. 2G and 4). Considering the similar properties of BR and SBR, this product change itself may have a biological significance only when a receptor system specific to the new catabolite exists. More importantly, the O2 dependence of the HO activity was lost in the presence of H2S due to circumvention of the rate-limiting O2 activation by ferrous verdoheme (Figs. 2G and 4) (
). This activity change is expected to have large impacts on gas signaling, namely the O2 sensing in the brain microvessels as well in as the carotid body. In these systems, HO-2, a constitutive isoform of HO, serves as a primary oxygen sensor, and its CO product is considered to transduce the O2 signal in concert with H2S (
). Under hypoxic condition, the HO activity decreases to relieve the CO inhibition of the H2S-generating enzymes. Consequently, hypoxia stimulates the H2S synthesis to enhance vasodilation in brain and neural activity of the carotid body through regulation of potassium channels (
). The faster formation of H2S together with its slower decay through O2-dependent processes is expected to promote the O2-independent S-HO reaction under hypoxia (Figs. 2G and 4). This maintains the HO activity at a certain level even under highly hypoxic conditions to avoid a complete stop of CO synthesis and thus overproduction of H2S. An H2S concentration ceiling may be important to prevent respiratory disorder (
), which might protect against oxidative stress through the action of SBV and SBR under hypoxic conditions.
Another striking effect of H2S is severe suppression of the HO catalytic activity (Fig. 2F), which is not explained by the mechanism shown in Fig. 4. Considering the weak inhibition of the single turnover reaction (Fig. 2C), interference by H2S appears to occur at a step prior to formation of the heme–HO complex. Under the catalytic conditions, excess hemin weakly binds to BSA supplemented to solubilize the BR and SBR products. The hemin–BSA complex exhibits a significant spectral change when incubated with H2S under hypoxic conditions but not under air, suggesting temporal reduction of hemin, O2 binding, and rapid auto-oxidation. This implies catalytic production of reactive oxygen species, which may inactivate the HO enzyme. The inhibitory effect of H2S in vivo might be distinct from our in vitro observation because it would largely depend on the status of “free heme” that interacts with various cellular factor(s).
18O2 and 34S8 were purchased from Spectra Stable Isotope (18O content, >95%) and ISOFLEX (34S content, 99.9%), respectively. Liquid NH3 (20 ml) was added dropwise to 34S8 (100 mg, 2.94 mmol) and sodium (135 mg, 5.89 mmol) in a round-bottom flask at −78 °C. The reaction mixture was stirred at room temperature under an argon atmosphere until liquid NH3 entirely vaporized. The residue was dried under reduced pressure to afford Na234S (anhydrous) as pale yellow powder (233 mg, quantitative). Microsomes containing human UGT1A1 and reagents required for glucuronidation were obtained from BD Gentest. Preparation of rat HO-1, its hemin complex, human CPR, and BVR was carried out as described previously (
). Other chemicals and proteins were obtained from Wako, Oriental Yeast, Sigma-Aldrich, or ICN and used without further purification. RAW264.7 was purchased from the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC). The basal buffer used throughout this study was 0.1 m HEPES, pH 7.5, at 20 °C unless otherwise stated.
Heme degradation by purified enzyme systems
Single turnover reactions to yield BV/SBV were typically examined in the presence of 10 μm ferric heme–HO-1, 40 μm NADPH, 40 nm CPR, and varied amounts of H2S. Similar single turnover reactions for BR/SBR were supplemented further with 40 nm BVR and 10 μm BSA. Catalytic assays were conducted with 0.25 μm HO-1, 10 μm hemin, 200 μm NADPH, 100 nm CPR, 25 nm BVR, 15 μm BSA, 100 units/ml catalase, 10 units/ml superoxide dismutase, and varied concentrations of H2S. Initial rates were determined at 20 min to assure linear increase of the products. O2 dependence of the catalytic activity and 18O2 labeling of the products were examined in an anaerobic glove box (UNIlab, MBraun). Absorption spectral changes during the reaction were recorded by an Agilent 8453 or Shimadzu UV-1500 spectrophotometer.
Product analysis of enzymatic reactions
Heme catabolites were concentrated by solid-phase extraction with Supelclean LC-18 columns (Supelco) as described elsewhere (
). The BR/SBR extraction was operated under minimum light to suppress their photoisomerization. Benzophenone was added as an internal standard at the end of the reactions for quantitative experiments. HPLC analyses of the extracted products were performed on a Shimadzu LC-20 HPLC system equipped with an SPD-M20A photodiode array detector at a flow rate of 1.0 ml/min. The BV/SBV products were separated on a Tosoh ODS-80Ts reversed-phase column (4.6 × 150 mm) with an isocratic elution of 70% methanol and 30% 0.1 m ammonium acetate (v/v). The BR/SBR analysis was performed typically on the ODS-80Ts column with a linear gradient from 75% methanol, 25% 20 mm triethylamine, and acetic acid (v/v), pH 5.0, to 85% methanol (v/v) over 15 min.
ESI-MS spectra were measured on a Bruker micrOTOF-Q-II mass spectrometer equipped with an Agilent 1100 HPLC system at a flow rate of 0.2 ml/min. LC separation of BV/SBV was conducted on the ODS-80Ts column (2.0 × 150 mm) with an isocratic elution of 20% 0.1 m ammonium acetate and 80% methanol (v/v). BR/SBR and their glucuronides were analyzed with an Agilent ZORBAX Extend-C18 reversed-phase column (2.1 × 150 mm) using a linear gradient from 35% methanol and 65% 20 mm aqueous ammonia (v/v) to 50% methanol (v/v) over 20 min. Mass spectra of the intermediate X were measured by direct infusion at 3 μl/min of a reaction solution containing 3 μm heme–HO-1, 10 μm H2O2, and 20 μm H2S. Typical parameters for the MS measurements were as follows: end plate offset, −500 V; capillary, 4500 V; in-source collision-induced dissociation, 150 V; nebulizer gas, 0.4 bar; dry gas, 4.0 liters/min; dry gas temperature, 180 °C.
CO was quantitated using an H64L variant of myoglobin having high CO affinity as reported earlier (
). After completion of single turnover reactions of 4 μm heme–HO-1, solid sodium dithionite and then H64L myoglobin (final concentration, 6 μm) were added to record absorption spectra of H64L partially bound with CO. Subtraction of a spectrum of ferrous H64L without exogenous ligands generated difference spectra in which a positive peak indicates generation of the CO-bound form and a negative peak is due to disappearance of ferrous deoxy H64L.
Synthesis of 1- and 19-SBV
1- and 19-SBV isomers were synthesized as their dimethyl esters (total yields from BV, 22 and 15%, respectively) according to a previous report (
). 1H and 13C NMR of the dimethyl esters was measured in CDCl3 with JEOL JMN-LA400 and JMN-LA600 Fourier transform NMR spectrometers (Figs. S2 and S3). Chemical shifts were referenced internally to CDCl3. The SBV esters were hydrolyzed, purified, and weighed by a Sartorius ultra-microbalance SE2 to determine extinction coefficients (Fig. S4, F and G).
Approximately 20 μm SBV isomers were reduced by BVR to corresponding SBR isomers in the presence of 20 μm NADPH and 30 μm BSA. The freshly prepared SBR was glucuronidated at 37 °C by BD Supersomes UGT1A1 according to a protocol provided by the manufacturer. Aliquots of samples were analyzed by HPLC and ESI-MS.
Each of 10 μm freshly prepared BR and SBR isomers was incubated at 37 °C with 50 mm AAPH in 0.1 m potassium phosphate, pH 7.5, containing 200 mm NaCl and 15 μm BSA with or without 100 μm NADPH and 50 nm BVR. Absorption spectral changes during the reaction were monitored at 468, 541, and 521 nm for BR, 1-SBR, and 19-SBR, respectively.
Heme degradation by mammalian cells
RAW264.7 cells were maintained in a 37 °C humidified incubator containing 5% CO2 and cultured in Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum, penicillin-streptomycin, and glutamine. 9 × 106 cells were grown in a 75-cm2 cell culture flask for 24 h and then incubated with 20 μm hemin for 12 h to induce HO-1. For efficient removal of BR generated during the induction period, the cells and the flask were washed three times with the culture medium containing fetal bovine serum rather than PBS. Heme degradation was performed by incubating the cells in fresh medium (18 ml) containing 5 μm hemin and 2 mm H2S at 37 °C. The screw cap of the flask was closed during the reaction to suppress volatilization of H2S. The medium was recovered after 2-h incubation, centrifuged (3,000 rpm for 5 min), and supplemented with propiophenone as an internal standard. Further addition of a half-volume of saturated guanidine hydrochloride was followed by solid-phase extraction and HPLC analysis as noted above.
Preparation of HO intermediates
Ferric heme–HO-1 as purified was reduced by a slight excess of dithionite anaerobically in the glove box to afford ferrous deoxyheme–HO-1 to which 100 μl of air was bubbled to yield ferrous oxyheme–HO-1. Ferric hydroxyheme–HO-1 was generated in an anaerobic reaction of ferric heme–HO-1 with a slight excess of H2O2 (
), by 3 molar eq of potassium ferricyanide (K3[Fe(CN)6]). The latter method enables completely anoxic preparation of ferric verdoheme. Ferric biliverdin–HO-1 was prepared from ferric heme–HO-1 by ascorbate-dependent heme degradation.
Reaction of ferric verdoheme–HO-1 with H2S
The ferric verdoheme complex was prepared by H2O2 immediately prior to use and used within 5 min after adding catalase to remove the residual peroxide. Reactions with alkyl thiols were performed in the presence of CO to suppress auto-oxidation of ferrous verdoheme. Kinetic analysis of ferric verdoheme–HO-1 with H2S was performed at 20 °C using a UNISOKU RSP-601 stopped-flow apparatus equipped with a built-in rapid scan spectrophotometer. The ferric verdoheme complex (3 μm) was mixed with equal volumes of H2S solution (final concentration, 50–200 μm). Observed rate constants determined from absorbance change at 683 nm exhibited good linear relationships with the H2S concentrations to afford apparent reaction rate constants (kapp) at varied pH. pH dependence of the kapp values (Fig. 3E) is well-fitted by assuming an acid-base transition of H2S (pKa 7.0). Buffers used for the kinetic analysis were: 0.1 m citrate, pH 6.0–7.0; phosphate, pH 6.5–7.5; HEPES, pH 7.0–8.0; and Tris-HCl, pH 7.5–8.5.
Product formation from X
The intermediate X was prepared anaerobically from ferrous verdoheme as noted above. The reductive titration to SBR was performed under anoxic condition while monitoring absorbance increase at 541 nm. Formal two-electron reduction of SBV to SBR was confirmed for the stable 1-SBV isomer. To examine O2 dependence of the product distribution, the anoxic X was mixed with air-saturated buffer to fill the screw-top cuvette. Products were quantitated by HPLC analysis. For isotope labeling of BV generated through O2-dependent reaction of X, the intermediate was prepared with a slight excess of nonlabeled H2O2 and air, which was followed by addition of catalase and bubbling with excess 18O2.
T. M., M. S., and M. I.-S. conceptualization; T. M. and M. I.-S. funding acquisition; T. M., R. S., K. S., Y. T., M. I., Y. N., and T. H. investigation; T. M. and M. I.-S. writing-original draft; T. M. and M. I.-S. project administration; M. S. and M. I.-S. writing-review and editing.
A portion of this work was supported by metabolomics platform established by JST, ERATO, Suematsu Gas Biology (completed in March 2015). We thank Drs. C. S. Raman, Emma Raven, and Sofia M. Kapetanaki for their helpful comments.
This work was supported by Grants-in-aid for Scientific Research 2412006 and 24350081 (to M. I.-S.); 23550186, 25109504, 15K05555, and 15H00912 (to T. M.); and 17H04000 (to T. H.) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan; by Takeda Science Foundation; and by Strategic Alliance Project for the Creation of Nano-Materials, and Nano-devices and Nano-systems from MEXT, Japan. The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest with the contents of this article.
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