Chemical research in toxicology

Protein Sulfenylation: A Novel Readout of Environmental Oxidant Stress.

PMID 26605980


Oxidative stress is a commonly cited mechanism of toxicity of environmental agents. Ubiquitous environmental chemicals such as the diesel exhaust component 1,2-naphthoquinone (1,2-NQ) induce oxidative stress by redox cycling, which generates hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Cysteinyl thiolate residues on regulatory proteins are subjected to oxidative modification by H2O2 in physiological contexts and are also toxicological targets of oxidant stress induced by environmental contaminants. We investigated whether exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of 1,2-NQ can induce H2O2-dependent oxidation of cysteinyl thiols in regulatory proteins as a readout of oxidant stress in human airway epithelial cells. BEAS-2B cells were exposed to 0-1000 μM 1,2-NQ for 0-30 min, and levels of H2O2 were measured by ratiometric spectrofluorometry of HyPer. H2O2-dependent protein sulfenylation was measured using immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting, and isotopic mass spectrometry. Catalase overexpression was used to investigate the relationship between H2O2 generation and protein sulfenylation in cells exposed to 1,2-NQ. Multiple experimental approaches showed that exposure to 1,2-NQ at concentrations as low as 3 μM induces H2O2-dependent protein sulfenylation in BEAS-2B cells. Moreover, the time of onset and duration of 1,2-NQ-induced sulfenylation of the regulatory proteins GAPDH and PTP1B showed significant differences. Oxidative modification of regulatory cysteinyl thiols in human lung cells exposed to relevant concentrations of an ambient air contaminant represents a novel marker of oxidative environmental stress.

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