Characterization of a cellular denitrase activity that reverses nitration of cyclooxygenase

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 Sep 1;305(5):H687-98. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00876.2012. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


Protein 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) formation is frequently regarded as a simple biomarker of disease, an irreversible posttranslational modification that can disrupt protein structure and function. Nevertheless, evidence that protein 3-NT modifications may be site selective and reversible, thus allowing for physiological regulation of protein activity, has begun to emerge. We have previously reported that cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 undergoes heme-dependent nitration of Tyr(385), an internal and catalytically essential residue. In the present study, we demonstrate that nitrated COX-1 undergoes a rapid reversal of nitration by substrate-selective and biologically regulated denitrase activity. Using nitrated COX-1 as a substrate, denitrase activity was validated and quantified by analytic HPLC with electrochemical detection and determined to be constitutively active in murine and human endothelial cells, macrophages, and a variety of tissue samples. Smooth muscle cells, however, contained little denitrase activity. Further characterizing this denitrase activity, we found that it was inhibited by free 3-NT and may be enhanced by endogenous nitric oxide and exogenously administered carbon monoxide. Finally, we describe a purification protocol that results in significant enrichment of a discrete denitrase-containing fraction, which maintains activity throughout the purification process. These findings reveal that nitrated COX-1 is a substrate for a denitrase in cells and tissues, implying that the reciprocal processes of nitration and denitration may modulate bioactive lipid synthesis in the setting of inflammation. In addition, our data reveal that denitration is a controlled process that may have broad importance for regulating cell signaling events in nitric oxide-generating systems during oxidative/nitrosative stress.

Keywords: 3-nitrotyrosine; HPLC with electrochemical detection; cyclooxygenase-1; denitration; liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometry; peroxynitrite; reactive nitrogen species.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Animal
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Nitrates / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Nitrates
  • Nitric Oxide
  • 3-nitrotyrosine
  • Tyrosine
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • nitratase