Regulation of protein function byS-nitrosation andS-glutathionylation: processes and targets in cardiovascular pathophysiology

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Decades of chemical, biochemical and pathophysiological research have established the relevance of post-translational protein modifications induced by processes related to oxidative stress, with critical reflections on cellular signal transduction pathways. A great deal of the so-called ‘redox regulation’ of cell function is in fact mediated through reactions promoted by reactive oxygen and nitrogen species on more or less specific aminoacid residues in proteins, at various levels within the cell machinery. Modifications involving cysteine residues have received most attention, due to the critical roles they play in determining the structure/function correlates in proteins. The peculiar reactivity of these residues results in two major classes of modifications, with incorporation of NO moieties (S-nitrosation, leading to formation of protein S-nitrosothiols) or binding of low molecular weight thiols (S-thionylation, i.e. in particular S-glutathionylation, S-cysteinylglycinylation and S-cysteinylation). A wide array of proteins have been thus analyzed in detail as far as their susceptibility to either modification or both, and the resulting functional changes have been described in a number of experimental settings. The present review aims to provide an update of available knowledge in the field, with a special focus on the respective (sometimes competing and antagonistic) roles played by protein S-nitrosations and S-thionylations in biochemical and cellular processes specifically pertaining to pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases.

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