Site-specific S-glutathionylation is emerging as a novel mechanism by which S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) may modify functionally important protein thiols. Here, we show that GSNO-Sepharose mimicks site-specific S-glutathionylation of the transcription factors c-Jun and p50 by free GSNO in vitro. Both c-Jun and p50 were found to bind to immobilized GSNO through the formation of a mixed disulphide, involving a conserved cysteine residue located in the DNA-binding domains of these transcription factors. Furthermore, we show that c-Jun, p50, glycogen phosphorylase b, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, creatine kinase, glutaredoxin and caspase-3 can be precipitated from a mixture of purified thiol-containing proteins by the formation of a mixed-disulphide bond with GSNO-Sepharose. With few exceptions, protein binding to this matrix correlated well with the susceptibility of the investigated proteins to undergo GSNO- but not diamide-induced mixed-disulphide formation in vitro. Finally, it is shown that covalent GSNO-Sepharose chromatography of HeLa cell nuclear extracts results in the enrichment of proteins which incorporate glutathione in response to GSNO treatment. As suggested by DNA-binding assays, this group of nuclear proteins include the transcription factors activator protein-1, nuclear factor-ĸB and cAMP-response-element-binding protein. In conclusion, we introduce GSNO-Sepharose as a probe for site-specific S-glutathionylation and as a novel and potentially useful tool to isolate and identify proteins which are candidate targets for GSNO-induced mixed-disulphide formation.

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