Methods in enzymology

Formation and reactions of sulfenic acid in human serum albumin.

PMID 20513474


Protein sulfenic acids (R-SOH) are receiving increased interest as intermediates in redox processes. Human serum albumin, the most abundant protein in plasma, possesses a single free thiol. We describe herein the different methodologies that we have employed to study the formation of sulfenic acid in this protein and characterize some of its properties, including reactions that lead to the formation of mixed disulfides and the sulfinic acid derivative. The thiol of albumin is oxidized by hydrogen peroxide and peroxynitrite to a relatively stable sulfenic acid, which can be detected through different strategies including reduction with sodium arsenite and reaction with glutathione. Dimedone trapping followed by mass spectrometry analysis confirmed the modification. The challenge of obtaining quantitative data regarding albumin sulfenic acid has been approached using the yellow thiol thionitrobenzoate. A careful analysis has led to the determination of the rate constants of the reactions of sulfenic acid with analytical probes and with possible biological targets such as plasma thiols, which lead to mixed disulfides, and hydrogen peroxide, which overoxidizes the sulfenic to sulfinic acid. Our results support the concept that sulfenic acid is a central intermediate in the formation of oxidized albumin species that are present in circulating albumin and increase under pathological conditions.