Superoxide dismutase catalyzes nitration of tyrosines by peroxynitrite in the rod and head domains of neurofilament-L

Academic Article


  • Superoxide dismutase (SOD) catalyzes the nitration of specific tyrosine residues in proteins by peroxynitrite (ONOO-), which may be the damaging gain-of-function resulting from mutations to SOD associated with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We found that disassembled neurofilament-L (light subunit) was more susceptible to tyrosine nitration catalyzed by SOD in vitro. Neurofilament-L was selectively nitrated compared with the majority of other proteins present in brain homogenates. Assembled neurofilament-L was more resistant to nitration, suggesting mat the susceptible tyrosine residues were protected by intersubunit contacts in assembled neurofilaments. Electrospray mass spectrometry of trypsin-digested neurofilament-L showed that tyrosine 17 in the head region and tyrosines 138, 177, and 265 in α-helical coil regions of the rod domain of neurofilament-L were particularly susceptible to SOD-catalyzed nitration. Nitrated neurofilament-L inhibited the assembly of unmodified neurofilament subunits, suggesting that the affected tyrosines are located in regions important for intersubunit contacts. Neurofilaments are major structural proteins expressed in motor neurons and known to be important for their survival in vivo. We suggest that SOD-catalyzed nitration of neurofilament-L may have a significant role in the pathogenesis of ALS.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Crow JP; Ye YZ; Strong M; Kirk M; Barnes S; Beckman JS
  • Start Page

  • 1945
  • End Page

  • 1953
  • Volume

  • 69
  • Issue

  • 5