GSNO (S-nitrosoglutathione) is emerging as a key regulator in NO signalling as it is in equilibrium with S-nitrosated proteins. Accordingly, it is of great interest to investigate GSNO metabolism in terms of competitive pathways and redox state. The present study explored ADH3 (alcohol dehydrogenase 3) in its dual function as GSNOR (GSNO reductase) and glutathione-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase. The glutathione adduct of formaldehyde, HMGSH (S-hydroxymethylglutathione), was oxidized with a k(cat)/K(m) value approx. 10 times the k(cat)/K(m) value of GSNO reduction, as determined by fluorescence spectroscopy. HMGSH oxidation in vitro was greatly accelerated in the presence of GSNO, which was concurrently reduced under cofactor recycling. Hence, considering the high cytosolic NAD(+)/NADH ratio, formaldehyde probably triggers ADH3-mediated GSNO reduction by enzyme-bound cofactor recycling and might result in a decrease in cellular S-NO (S-nitrosothiol) content in vivo. Formaldehyde exposure affected S-NO content in cultured cells with a trend towards decreased levels at concentrations of 1-5 mM, in agreement with the proposed mechanism. Product formation after GSNO reduction to the intermediate semimercaptal responded to GSH/GSNO ratios; ratios up to 2-fold allowed the spontaneous rearrangement to glutathione sulfinamide, whereas 5-fold excess of GSH favoured the interception of the intermediate to form glutathione disulfide. The sulfinamide and its hydrolysis product, glutathione sulfinic acid, inhibited GST (glutathione transferase) activity. Taken together, the findings of the present study provide indirect evidence for formaldehyde as a physiological trigger of GSNO depletion and show that GSNO reduction can result in the formation of GST inhibitors, which, however, is prevented under normal cellular redox conditions.
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