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Ergothioneine Prevents Copper-Induced Oxidative Damage to DNA and Protein by Forming a Redox-Inactive Ergothioneine-Copper Complex

State Key Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Eco-Toxicology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, PR China.
Chemical Research in Toxicology (Impact Factor: 4.19). 11/2010; 24(1):30-4. DOI: 10.1021/tx100214t
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Ergothioneine (2-mercaptohistidine trimethylbetaine) is a naturally occurring amino acid analogue found in up to millimolar concentrations in several tissues and biological fluids. However, the biological functions of ergothioneine remain incompletely understood. In this study, we investigated the role of ergothioneine in copper-induced oxidative damage to DNA and protein, using two copper-containing systems: Cu(II) with ascorbate and Cu(II) with H(2)O(2) [0.1 mM Cu(II), 1 mM ascorbate, and 1 mM H(2)O(2)]. Oxidative damage to DNA and bovine serum albumin was measured as strand breakage and protein carbonyl formation, respectively. Ergothioneine (0.1-1.0 mM) provided strong, dose-dependent protection against oxidation of DNA and protein in both copper-containing systems. In contrast, only limited protection was observed with the purported hydroxyl radical scavengers, dimethyl sulfoxide and mannitol, even at concentrations as high as 100 mM. Ergothioneine also significantly inhibited copper-catalyzed oxidation of ascorbate and competed effectively with histidine and 1,10-phenanthroline for binding of cuprous copper, but not cupric copper, as demonstrated by UV-visible and low-temperature electron spin resonance techniques. We conclude that ergothioneine is a potent, natural sulfur-containing antioxidant that prevents copper-dependent oxidative damage to biological macromolecules by forming a redox-inactive ergothioneine-copper complex.

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    • "EGT is commonly marketed as a dietary supplement or nutraceutical, due to its anti-oxidant properties in vitro, reported in numerous publications [3], [7]–[10]. Direct scavenging of free radicals and chelation of transition metals are the most widely cited possible functions of EGT [10], [11]. However, so far, no rigorous research has conclusively demonstrated any benefit of EGT in vivo. "
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    ABSTRACT: Ergothioneine is a small, sulfur-containing metabolite (229 Da) synthesized by various species of bacteria and fungi, which can accumulate to millimolar levels in tissues or cells (e.g. erythrocytes) of higher eukaryotes. It is commonly marketed as a dietary supplement due to its proposed protective and antioxidative functions. In this study we report the genes forming the two-step ergothioneine biosynthetic pathway in the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We identified the first gene, egt1+ (SPBC1604.01), by sequence homology to previously published genes from Neurospora crassa and Mycobacterium smegmatis. We showed, using metabolomic analysis, that the Δegt1 deletion mutant completely lacked ergothioneine and its precursors (trimethyl histidine/hercynine and hercynylcysteine sulfoxide). Since the second step of ergothioneine biosynthesis has not been characterized in eukaryotes, we examined four putative homologs (Nfs1/SPBC21D10.11c, SPAC11D3.10, SPCC777.03c, and SPBC660.12c) of the corresponding mycobacterial enzyme EgtE. Among deletion mutants of these genes, only one (ΔSPBC660.12c, designated Δegt2) showed a substantial decrease in ergothioneine, accompanied by accumulation of its immediate precursor, hercynylcysteine sulfoxide. Ergothioneine-deficient strains exhibited no phenotypic defects during vegetative growth or quiescence. To effectively study the role of ergothioneine, we constructed an egt1+ overexpression system by replacing its native promoter with the nmt1+ promoter, which is inducible in the absence of thiamine. We employed three versions of the nmt1 promoter with increasing strength of expression and confirmed corresponding accumulations of ergothioneine. We quantified the intracellular concentration of ergothioneine in S. pombe (0.3, 157.4, 41.6, and up to 1606.3 µM in vegetative, nitrogen-starved, glucose-starved, and egt1+-overexpressing cells, respectively) and described its gradual accumulation under long-term quiescence. Finally, we demonstrated that the ergothioneine pathway can also synthesize selenoneine, a selenium-containing derivative of ergothioneine, when the culture medium is supplemented with selenium. We further found that selenoneine biosynthesis involves a novel intermediate compound, hercynylselenocysteine.
    PLoS ONE 05/2014; 9(5):e97774. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0097774 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "It is interesting to note that a prokaryotic glutathione analog, namely, ergothioneine, can protect cells from oxidative damage as measured by 4-HNE and partially rescue cell death caused by irradiation [165]. Another report showed that ergothioneine forms a chelation complex with copper and therefore protects cells from copper-induced DNA damage [166]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Accumulation of oxidized nucleic acids causes genomic instability leading to senescence, apoptosis, and tumorigenesis. Phytoagents are known to reduce the risk of cancer development; whether such effects are through regulating the extent of nucleic acid oxidation remains unclear. Here, we outlined the role of reactive oxygen species in nucleic acid oxidation as a driving force in cancer progression. The consequential relationship between genome instability and cancer progression highlights the importance of modulation of cellular redox level in cancer management. Current epidemiological and experimental evidence demonstrate the effects and modes of action of phytoagents in nucleic acid oxidation and provide rationales for the use of phytoagents as chemopreventive or therapeutic agents. Vitamins and various phytoagents antagonize carcinogen-triggered oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals and/or activating endogenous defence systems such as Nrf2-regulated antioxidant genes or pathways. Moreover, metal ion chelation by phytoagents helps to attenuate oxidative DNA damage caused by transition metal ions. Besides, the prooxidant effects of some phytoagents pose selective cytotoxicity on cancer cells and shed light on a new strategy of cancer therapy. The "double-edged sword" role of phytoagents as redox regulators in nucleic acid oxidation and their possible roles in cancer prevention or therapy are discussed in this review.
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    • "[5] Besides, ET also can prevent copper-dependent oxidative damage to biological macromolecules by forming a redox-inactive ergothioneine copper complex. [6] Nevertheless, some controversial results on the role of ET in chronic inflammatory conditions have also reported. [7] [8] In addition, the role of ET on cardiovascular disease is also uncertain. "
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