Sex-specific dysregulation of cysteine oxidation and the methionine and folate cycles in female cystathionine gamma-lyase null mice: a serendipitous model of the methylfolate trap

Biol Open. 2015 Aug 14;4(9):1154-62. doi: 10.1242/bio.013433.


In addition to its role in the endogenous synthesis of cysteine, cystathionine gamma-lyase (CGL) is a major physiological source of the vasorelaxant hydrogen sulfide. Cgl null mice are potentially useful for studying the influence of this compound upon vascular tone and endothelial function. Here, we confirm a previous report that female Cgl null mice exhibit an approximate 45-fold increase in plasma total homocysteine compared to wild type controls. This level of homocysteine is approximately 3.5-fold higher than that observed in male Cgl null mice and is essentially equivalent to that observed in mouse models of cystathionine beta synthase deficient homocystinuria. Cgl null mice of both sexes exhibited decreased expression of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase and cysteinesulfinate decarboxylase compared to WT controls. Female Cgl null mice exhibited a sex-specific induction of betaine homocysteine S-methyltransferase and methionine adenosyltransferase 1, alpha and a 70% decrease in methionine synthase expression accompanied by significantly decreased plasma methionine. Decreased plasma cysteine levels in female Cgl null mice were associated with sex-specific dysregulation of cysteine dioxygenase expression. Comparative histological assessment between cystathionine beta-synthase and Cgl null mice indicated that the therapeutic potential of cystathionine against liver injury merits possible further investigation. Collectively, our data demonstrates the importance of considering sex when investigating mouse models of inborn errors of metabolism and indicate that while female Cgl null mice are of questionable utility for studying the physiological role of hydrogen sulfide, they could serve as a useful model for studying the consequences of methionine synthase deficiency and the methylfolate trap.

Keywords: Cystathionine β-synthase; Cystathionine γ-lyase; Homocystinuria; Hydrogen sulfide; Methionine synthase; Remethylation defect.