The Chemical Basis of Thiol Addition to Nitro-conjugated Linoleic Acid, a Protective Cell-signaling Lipid
Nitroalkene fatty acids are formed in vivo and exert protective and anti-inflammatory effects via reversible Michael addition to thiol-containing proteins in key signaling pathways. Nitro-conjugated linoleic acid (NO 2 -CLA) is preferentially formed, constitutes the most abundant nitrated fatty acid in humans, and contains two carbons that could potentially react with thiols, modulating signaling actions and levels. In this work, we examined the reactions of NO 2 -CLA with low molecular weight thiols (glutathione, cysteine, homocysteine, cysteinylglycine, and β-mercaptoethanol) and human serum albumin. Reactions followed reversible biphasic kinetics, consistent with the presence of two electrophilic centers in NO 2 -CLA located on the β- and δ-carbons with respect to the nitro group. The differential reactivity was confirmed by computational modeling of the electronic structure. The rates ( k on and k off ) and equilibrium constants for both reactions were determined for different thiols. LC-UV-Visible and LC-MS analyses showed that the fast reaction corresponds to β-adduct formation (the kinetic product), while the slow reaction corresponds to the formation of the δ-adduct (the thermodynamic product). The pH dependence of the rate constants, the correlation between intrinsic reactivity and thiol p K a , and the absence of deuterium solvent kinetic isotope effects suggested stepwise mechanisms with thiolate attack on NO 2 -CLA as rate-controlling step. Computational modeling supported the mechanism and revealed additional features of the transition states, anionic intermediates, and final neutral products. Importantly, the detection of cysteine-δ-adducts in human urine provided evidence for the biological relevance of this reaction. Finally, human serum albumin was found to bind NO 2 -CLA both non-covalently and to form covalent adducts at Cys-34, suggesting potential modes for systemic distribution. These results provide new insights into the chemical basis of NO 2 -CLA signaling actions.
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