The Biochemical journal

Reactions of L-ergothioneine and some other aminothiones with2,2'-and 4,4'-dipyridyl disulphides and of L-ergothioneine with iodoacetamide. 2-Mercaptoimidazoles, 2- and 4-thiopyridones, thiourea and thioacetamide as highly reactive neutral sulphur nucleophils.

PMID 4463944


1. The reactions of 2,2'- and 4,4'-dipyridyl disulphide (2-Py-S-S-2-Py and 4-Py-S-S-4-Py) with l-ergothioneine (2-mercapto-l-histidine betaine), 2-mercaptoimidazole, 1-methyl-2-mercaptoimidazole, thiourea, thioacetamide, 2-thiopyridone (Py-2-SH) and 4-thiopyridone (Py-4-SH) were investigated spectrophotometrically in the pH range approx. 1-9. 2. These reactions involve two sequential reversible thiol-disulphide interchanges. 3. The reaction of l-ergothioneine with 2-Py-S-S-2-Py and/or with the l-ergothioneine-Py-2-SH mixed disulphide, both of which provide Py-2-SH, is characterized by at least three reactive protonic states. This provides definitive evidence that neutral l-ergothioneine is a reactive nucleophile, particularly towards the highly electrophilic protonated disulphides. 4. A similar situation appears to obtain in the reactions of l-ergothioneine and Py-2-SH with 4-Py-S-S-4-Py and in the reactions of the other 2-mercaptoimidazoles, thiourea and Py-4-SH with 2-Py-S-S-2-Py. The nucleophilic reactivity of Py-4-SH suggests that general base catalysis provided by the disulphide in a cyclic or quasi-cyclic transition state is not necessary to generate nucleophilic reactivity in the other amino-thiones whose geometry could permit such catalysis. 5. The existence of a positive deuterium isotope effect in the l-ergothioneine-2-Py-S-S-2-Py system at pH6-7 provides no evidence for general base catalysis but is in accord with a mechanism involving specific acid catalysis and post-transition-state proton transfer. 6. The pH-dependences of the overall equilibrium positions of the various thiol-disulphide interchanges are described. 7. Reaction of thioacetamide with a stoicheiometric quantity of 2-Py-S-S-2-Py at pH1 provides 2 molecules of Py-2-SH per molecule of thioacetamide and elemental sulphur; these findings can be accounted for by thiol-disulphide interchange to provide a thioacetamide-Py-2-SH mixed disulphide followed by fragmentation to provide CH(3)CN, S and Py-2-SH. 8. Provision of high reactivity in the neutral forms of the members of this series of sulphur nucleophiles by electron donation by the amino group is compared with the well known alpha effect that provides enhanced nucleophilicity in compounds containing an electronegative atom adjacent to the nucleophilic atom. 9. The decrease in the u.v. absorption of l-ergothioneine at 257nm consequent on transformation of its aminothione moiety into an S-alkyl-2-mercaptoimidazole moiety provides a convenient method of following the alkylation of l-ergothioneine by iodoacetamide. 10. The pH dependence of the extinction coefficient of l-ergothioneine at 257nm is described by epsilon(257)={8x10(3)/(1+K(a)/[H(+)]} +6x10(3)m(-1).cm(-1) in which pK(a)=10.8. 11. In the pH range 3-11 the reaction is characterized by two reactive protonic states (X and XH). 12. The X state, reaction of the ionized 2-mercaptoimidazole moiety of the l-ergothioneine dianion with neutral iodoacetamide, is characterized by the second-order rate constant 4.0m(-1).s(-1) (25.0 degrees C, I=0.05). The XH state, characterized by the second-order rate constant 0.03m(-1).s(-1), is interpreted as reaction of the thione form of the neutral 2-mercaptoimidazole moiety of the l-ergothioneine monoanion with neutral iodoacetamide. 13. The XH state of the alkylation reaction does not exhibit a deuterium isotope effect.

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