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Computational Elucidation of the Solvent-Dependent Addition of 4‑Hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE) to Cysteine and Cysteinate Residues

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journal contribution
posted on 23.09.2022, 07:05 authored by Balázs Olasz, Béla Fiser, Milán Szőri, Béla Viskolcz, Michael C. Owen
The lipid peroxidation end product, 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE), is a secondary mediator of oxidative stress due to its strong ability to form adducts to the side chains of lysine, histidine, and cysteine residues (Cys) at increasing reactivities. This reaction can take place in various cellular environments and may be dependent on solvent. Moreover, approximately 10% of cysteine residues within the cells exist as the negatively charged cysteinate, which may also have a distinct reactivity toward HNE. In this study, quantum chemical calculations are used to investigate the reactivity of HNE toward Cys and cysteinate in three distinct solvent environments to mimic the aqueous, polar, and hydrophobic regions within the cell. Water enhances the reactivity of HNE to cysteine compared to that of the polar and hydrophobic solvents, and the reactivity of HNE is further augmented when Cys is first ionized to cysteinate. This is also confirmed by the transition state rate constant calculations. This study reveals the role of solvent polarity in these reactions and how cysteinate can account for the seemingly high reactivity of HNE toward Cys compared to other amino acid residues and demonstrates how a strong nucleophile can enhance the reactivity of an antioxidant analogue of the Cys residue.