S-glutathionylation uncouples eNOS and regulates its cellular and vascular function

Chun An Chen, Tse Yao Wang, Saradhadevi Varadharaj, Levy A. Reyes, Craig Hemann, M. A.Hassan Talukder, Yeong Renn Chen, Lawrence J. Druhan, Jay L. Zweier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

465 Scopus citations


Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is critical in the regulation of vascular function, and can generate both nitric oxide (NO) and superoxide (O2-2), which are key mediators of cellular signalling. In the presence of Ca2+/calmodulin, eNOS produces NO, endothelialderived relaxing factor, from L-arginine (L-Arg) by means of electron transfer from NADPH through a flavin containing reductase domain to oxygen bound at the haem of an oxygenase domain, which also contains binding sites for tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) and L-Arg1-3. In the absence of BH4, NO synthesis is abrogated and instead O2-2 is generated4-7. While NOS dysfunction occurs in diseases with redox stress,BH4 repletion only partly restoresNOS activity and NOS-dependent vasodilation7. This suggests that there is an as yet unidentified redox-regulated mechanism controlling NOS function. Protein thiols can undergo S-glutathionylation, a reversible protein modification involved in cellular signalling and adaptation8,9. Under oxidative stress, S-glutathionylation occurs through thiol-disulphide exchange with oxidized glutathione or reaction of oxidant-induced protein thiyl radicals with reduced glutathione10,11. Cysteine residues are critical for the maintenance of eNOS function12,13; we therefore speculated that oxidative stress could alter eNOS activity through S-glutathionylation. Here we show that S-glutathionylation of eNOS reversibly decreases NOS activity with an increase in O2-2 generation primarily from the reductase, in which two highly conserved cysteine residues are identified as sites of S-glutathionylation and found to be critical for redox-regulation of eNOS function. We show that eNOS Sglutathionylation in endothelial cells, with loss of NO and gain of O2-2generation, is associated withimpaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation. In hypertensive vessels, eNOS S-glutathionylation is increased with impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation that is restored by thiol-specific reducing agents, which reverse this S-glutathionylation. Thus, S-glutathionylation of eNOS is a pivotal switch providing redox regulation of cellular signalling, endothelial function and vascular tone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1120
Number of pages6
Issue number7327
StatePublished - Dec 23 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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