Protein thiolation by glutathione is a reversible and regulated post-translational modification that is increased in response to oxidants and nitric oxide. Because many mitochondrial enzymes contain critical thiol residues, it has been hypothesized that thiolation reactions regulate cell metabolism and survival. However, it has been difficult to differentiate the biological effects due to protein thiolation from other oxidative protein modifications. In this study, we used diamide to titrate protein glutathiolation and examined its impact on glycolysis, mitochondrial function, and cell death in rat aortic smooth muscle cells. Treatment of cells with diamide increased protein glutathiolation in a concentration-dependent manner and had comparably little effect on protein-protein disulfide formation. Diamide increased mitochondrial proton leak and decreased ATP-linked mitochondrial oxygen consumption and cellular bioenergetic reserve capacity. Concentrations of diamide above 200 μM promoted acute bioenergetic failure and caused cell death, whereas lower concentrations of diamide led to a prolonged increase in glycolytic flux and were not associated with loss of cell viability. Depletion of glutathione using buthionine sulfoximine had no effect on basal protein thiolation or cellular bioenergetics but decreased diamide-induced protein glutathiolation and sensitized the cells to bioenergetic dysfunction and death. The effects of diamide on cell metabolism and viability were fully reversible upon addition of dithiothreitol. These data suggest that protein thiolation modulates key metabolic processes in both the mitochondria and cytosol. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Hill, B. G., Higdon, A. N., Dranka, B. P., & Darley-Usmar, V. M. (2010). Regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell bioenergetic function by protein glutathiolation. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics, 1797(2), 285–295. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbabio.2009.11.005