Featured Article: Inhibition of glutathione synthesis distinctly alters mitochondrial and cytosolic redox poise

Vladimir L. Kolossov, William P. Hanafin, Jessica N. Beaudoin, Denisa E. Bica, Stephen J. DiLiberto, Paul J.A. Kenis, H. Rex Gaskins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The glutathione couple GSH/GSSG is the most abundant cellular redox buffer and is not at equilibrium among intracellular compartments. Perturbation of glutathione poise has been associated with tumorigenesis; however, due to analytical limitations, the underlying mechanisms behind this relationship are poorly understood. In this regard, we have implemented a ratiometric, genetically encoded redox-sensitive green fluorescent protein fused to human glutaredoxin (Grx1-roGFP2) to monitor real-time glutathione redox potentials in the cytosol and mitochondrial matrix of tumorigenic and non-tumorigenic cells. First, we demonstrated that recovery time in both compartments depended upon the length of exposure to oxidative challenge with diamide, a thiol-oxidizing agent. We then monitored changes in glutathione poise in cytosolic and mitochondrial matrices following inhibition of glutathione (GSH) synthesis with L-buthionine sulphoximine (BSO). The mitochondrial matrix showed higher oxidation in the BSO-treated cells indicating distinct compartmental alterations in redox poise. Finally, the contributory role of the p53 protein in supporting cytosolic redox poise was demonstrated. Inactivation of the p53 pathway by expression of a dominant-negative p53 protein sensitized the cytosol to oxidation in BSO-treated tumor cells. As a result, both compartments of PF161-T+p53DD cells were equally oxidized ≈20 mV by inhibition of GSH synthesis. Conversely, mitochondrial oxidation was independent of p53 status in GSH-deficient tumor cells. Taken together, these findings indicate different redox requirements for the glutathione thiol/disulfide redox couple within the cytosol and mitochondria of resting cells and reveal distinct regulation of their redox poise in response to inhibition of glutathione biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-403
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • cytosol
  • glutathione
  • Live cell imaging
  • mitochondria
  • p53
  • redox probe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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