It has recently been established that nitrosoglutathione is the preferred substrate of the glutathione-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase from divergent organisms. Trypanosomatids produce not only glutathione, but also glutathionylspermidine, trypanothione and ovothiol A. The formaldehyde dehydrogenase activity of Crithidia fasciculata was independent of these thiols and extracts possessed very low levels of nitrosothiol reductase activity with glutathione or its spermidine conjugates as the thiol component. Although ovothiol A did not form a stable nitrosothiol, it decomposed the S-nitroso groups of nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) and dinitrotrypanothione [T(SNO)2] with second-order rate constants of 19.12M-1·s-1 and 8.67M-1·s-1 respectively. The reaction of T(SNO)2 with ovothiol A, however, accelerated to a rate similar to that seen with GSNO. Ovothiol A can act catalytically to decompose these nitrosothiols, although non-productive mechanisms exist. The catalytic phase of the reaction was dependent on the production of thiyl radicals, since it was abolished in the presence of 5,5-dimethyl-1-pyrroline-N-oxide and the formation of nitric oxide could be detected by means of the conversion of oxyhaemoglobin into methaemoglobin. The rate-limiting step in the catalytic process was the reduction of oxidized ovothiol species and, in this respect, T(SNO)2 is a more efficient substrate than GSNO. Trypanothione decomposed GSNO with a second-order rate constant of 0.786M-1·s-1 and the major nitrogenous end product changed from nitrite to ammonia as the ratio of thiol to nitrosothiol increased. The results indicate that ovothiol A acts in synergy with trypanothione in the decomposition of T(SNO)2.

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