Kinetic assessment of Michael addition reactions of alpha, beta-unsaturated carbonyl compounds to amino acid and protein thiols

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Humans have extensive adverse exposure to alpha,beta-unsaturated carbonyl compounds (ABuCs) as these are major toxins in smoke and exhaust fumes, as well as products of lipid peroxidation. In contrast, another ABuC, dimethylfumarate, is used to treat psoriasis and multiple sclerosis. ABuCs undergo Michael adduction with amine, imidazole and thiol groups, with reaction at Cys residues predominating. Here we report rate constants, k2, for ABuCs (acrolein, crotonaldehyde, dimethylfumarate, cyclohex-1-en-2-one, cyclopent-1-en-2-one) with Cys residues present on N-Ac-Cys, GSH, bovine serum albumin, creatine kinase, papain, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, and both wild-type and the C151S mutant of Keap-1. k2 values for N-Ac-Cys and GSH vary by > 250-fold, indicating a marked ABuC structure dependence, with acrolein the most reactive. There is also considerable variation in k2 between protein Cys groups, with these significantly greater than for GSH. A linear inverse correlation for acrolein with the thiol pKa indicates that the thiolate anion is the reactive species. The modest k2 for GSH rationalizes the detection of protein adducts of ABuCs in cells. The k2 values for dimethylfumarate also vary markedly, with the Cys151 residue on Keap-1 being particularly reactive, with the C151S mutant giving a much lower k2 value. The data for crotonaldehyde, dimethylfumarate, and cyclohex-1-en-2-one show little correlation with the Cys pKa values, indicating that steric/electronic interactions, rather than Cys ionization are important. These data indicate that protein Cys residues, and particularly Cys151 on Keap-1, react readily with dimethylfumarate, and this may help rationalize the use of this compound as a therapeutic agent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number569
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Pages (from-to)1-11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Michael addition, Thiol, Protein modification, Dimethylfumarate, Acrolein, Keap1, alpha, beta-unsaturated carbonyls, BASES HSAB THEORY, DIMETHYL FUMARATE, ACROLEIN, CYSTEINE, ACTIVATION, REACTIVITY, TOXICITY, KEAP1, HARD, SOFT

ID: 274972075