Modification of cysteine residues by oxidative and nitrosative stress affects structure and function of proteins, thereby contributing to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Although the major function of thioredoxin 1 (Trx1) is to reduce disulfide bonds, it can also act as either a denitrosylase or transnitrosylase in a context-dependent manner. Here we show that Trx1 transnitrosylates Atg7, an E1-like enzyme, thereby stimulating autophagy. During ischemia, Trx1 was oxidized at Cys32-Cys35 of the oxidoreductase catalytic center and S-nitrosylated at Cys73. Unexpectedly, Atg7 Cys545-Cys548 reduced the disulfide bond in Trx1 at Cys32-Cys35 through thiol-disulfide exchange and this then allowed NO to be released from Cys73 in Trx1 and transferred to Atg7 at Cys402. Experiments conducted with Atg7 C402S–knockin mice showed that S-nitrosylation of Atg7 at Cys402 promotes autophagy by stimulating E1-like activity, thereby protecting the heart against ischemia. These results suggest that the thiol-disulfide exchange and the NO transfer are functionally coupled, allowing oxidized Trx1 to mediate a salutary effect during myocardial ischemia through transnitrosylation of Atg7 and stimulation of autophagy.
Narayani Nagarajan, Shin-ichi Oka, Jihoon Nah, Changgong Wu, Peiyong Zhai, Risa Mukai, Xiaoyong Xu, Sanchita Kashyap, Chun-Yang Huang, Eun-Ah Sung, Wataru Mizushima, Allen Sam Titus, Koichiro Takayama, Youssef Mourad, Jamie Francisco, Tong Liu, Tong Chen, Hong Li, Junichi Sadoshima