Inactivation of dehydratase [4Fe-4S] clusters and disruption of iron homeostasis upon cell exposure to peroxynitrite

Kay Keyer, James A. Imlay

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Phagocytes produce both nitric oxide and superoxide as components of the oxidative defense against pathogens. Neither molecule is likely at physiological concentrations to kill cells. However, two of their reaction products, hydrogen peroxide and peroxynitrite, are strong oxidants, cell- permeant, and toxic. Hydrogen peroxide generates oxidative DNA damage, while the primary mechanism of toxicity of peroxynitrite has not yet been determined. Recent in vitro studies indicated that peroxynitrite is capable of oxidizing the [4Fe-4S] clusters of a family of dehydratases (Hausladen, A., and Fridovich, I. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 29405-29408; Castro, L., Rodriguez, M., and Radi, R. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 29409-29415). We demonstrate here that peroxynitrite at 1% of its lethal dose almost fully inactivated the labile dehydratases in Escherichia coli. The rate at which peroxynitrite inactivated the clusters substantially exceeded the rate at which it oxidized thiols or spontaneously decomposed. These results suggest that these dehydratases may be primary targets of peroxynitrite in vivo. Another consequence of the cluster damage was the release of 100 μM iron into the cytosol. During phagocytosis, this intracellular free iron could increase lethal DNA damage by hydrogen peroxide or protein modification by additional peroxynitrite. In response to peroxynitrite challenges, E. coli rapidly sequestered the intracellular free iron using an undefined scavenging system. The iron-sulfur clusters were more gradually repaired by a process that drew iron from its iron-storage proteins. These are likely to be critical events in the struggle between phagocyte and pathogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27652-27659
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 31 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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