Mechanism of thiol-supported arsenate reduction mediated by phosphorolytic-arsenolytic enzymes: II. Enzymatic formation of arsenylated products susceptible for reduction to arsenite by Thiols

Zoltán Gregus, Goedele Roos, Paul Geerlings, Balázs Németi

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Enzymes catalyzing the phosphorolytic cleavage of their substrates can reduce arsenate (AsV) to the more toxic arsenite (AsIII) via the arsenolytic substrate cleavage in presence of a reductant, as glutathione or dithiotreitol (DTT). We have shown this for purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), glycogen phosphorylase-a (GPa), and phosphotransacetylase (PTA). Using a multidisciplinary approach, we explored the mechanism whereby these enzymes mediate AsV reduction. It is known that PNP cleaves inosine with AsV into hypoxanthine and ribose-1-arsenate. In presence of inosine, AsV and DTT, PNP mediates AsIII formation. In this study, we incubated PNP first with inosine and AsV, allowing the arsenolytic reaction to run, then blocked this reaction with the PNP inhibitor BCX-1777, added DTT and continued the incubation. Despite inhibition of PNP, large amount of AsIII was formed in these incubations, indicating that PNP does not reduce AsV directly but forms a product (i.e., ribose-1-arsenate) that is reduced to AsIII by DTT. Similar studies with the other arsenolytic enzymes (GPa, GAPDH, and PTA) yielded similar results. Various thiols that differentially supported AsV reduction when present during PNP-catalyzed arsenolysis (DTT ∼ dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonic acid > mercaptoethanol > DMSA > GSH) similarly supported AsV reduction when added only after a transient PNP-catalyzed arsenolysis, which preformed ribose-1-arsenate. Experiments with progressively delayed addition of DTT after BCX-1777 indicated that ribose-1-arsenate is short-lived with a half-life of 4 min. In conclusion, phosphorolytic enzymes, such as PNP, GAPDH, GPa, and PTA, promote thiol-dependent AsV reduction because they convert AsV into arsenylated products reducible by thiols more readily than AsV. In support of this view, reactivity studies using conceptual density functional theory reactivity descriptors (local softness, nucleofugality) indicate that reduction by thiols of the arsenylated metabolites is favored over AsV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-292
Number of pages11
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 24 2009



  • Arsenate reduction
  • Glutathione
  • HSAB principle
  • Nucleofugality
  • Phosphorolytic enzymes
  • Thiols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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