Mitochondrial and Cellular Heme-Dependent Proteins as Targets for the Bioactive Function of the Heme Oxygenase/Carbon Monoxide System
The toxic effect of high concentrations of CO gas in living organisms is coherently typified at biochemical levels by the high affinity of CO for hemoglobin and cytochromes, heme-dependent proteins that are indispensable for oxygen transport and mitochondrial respiration. However, the basal production of CO during heme degradation and the ability of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) to increase CO availability pose the question of how this gaseous molecule interacts with metal centers within the intracellular milieu to serve as one of the most unconventional signaling mediators. Emerging evidence indicates that the diverse and multifaceted beneficial effects exerted by "low concentrations" of CO cannot be explained solely by the activation of classic prototypic targets (i.e., guanylate cyclase/potassium channels) but entails the dynamic and concerted activation/inhibition of a group of CO-responsive proteins. As the complexity of the temporal and spatial action of CO is progressively being appreciated, this review aims to (a) highlight the current knowledge on certain metal-containing proteins that interact directly with CO; (b) analyze the latest notions on their functional role in response to CO; and finally (c) propose a rational view on the mode these CO targets may interrelate with and be regulated by the HO/CO pathway.
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