Hydrogen Sulfide Oxidation by Myoglobin

J Am Chem Soc. 2016 Jul 13;138(27):8476-88. doi: 10.1021/jacs.6b03456. Epub 2016 Jun 30.


Enzymes in the sulfur network generate the signaling molecule, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), from the amino acids cysteine and homocysteine. Since it is toxic at elevated concentrations, cells are equipped to clear H2S. A canonical sulfide oxidation pathway operates in mitochondria, converting H2S to thiosulfate and sulfate. We have recently discovered the ability of ferric hemoglobin to oxidize sulfide to thiosulfate and iron-bound hydropolysulfides. In this study, we report that myoglobin exhibits a similar capacity for sulfide oxidation. We have trapped and characterized iron-bound sulfur intermediates using cryo-mass spectrometry and X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Further support for the postulated intermediates in the chemically challenging conversion of H2S to thiosulfate and iron-bound catenated sulfur products is provided by EPR and resonance Raman spectroscopy in addition to density functional theory computational results. We speculate that the unusual sensitivity of skeletal muscle cytochrome c oxidase to sulfide poisoning in ethylmalonic encephalopathy, resulting from the deficiency in a mitochondrial sulfide oxidation enzyme, might be due to the concentration of H2S by myoglobin in this tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Horses
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Myoglobin / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Binding


  • Myoglobin
  • Iron
  • Hydrogen Sulfide