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The role of nitric oxide on rosuvastatin-mediated S-nitrosylation and translational proteomes in human umbilical vein endothelial cells
© Huang et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012
Received: 17 November 2011
Accepted: 23 April 2012
Published: 16 July 2012
The pleiotropic effects of 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins), which are independent from their cholesterol-lowering action, have been widely recognized in various biological systems. Statins can affect endothelial homeostasis, which is partly modulated by the production of nitric oxide (NO). However, it is unclear how statin/NO-mediated posttranslational S-nitrosylation of endothelial proteins and changes in translational profiles may benefit endothelial integrity. Therefore, it is important to understand the statin/NO-mediated S-nitrosylation in endothelial cells.
Rosuvastatin treatment of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (ECs) enhanced the enzymatic activity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and the expression of 78 S-nitrosoproteins. Among these S-nitrosoproteins, we identified 17 proteins, including protein disulfide bond isomerase, phospholipase C, transaldolase and heat shock proteins. Furthermore, a hydrophobic Cys66 was determined as the S-nitrosylation site of the mitochondrial HSP70. In addition to the statin-modulated posttranslational S-nitrosylation, changes in the NO-mediated translational proteome were also observed. Seventeen major proteins were significantly upregulated after rosuvastatin treatment. However, 12 of these proteins were downregulated after pretreating ECs with an eNOS inhibitor (L-NAME), which indicated that their expression was modulated by NO.
ECs treated with rosuvastatin increase eNOS activation. The increased NO production is involved in modulating S-nitrosylation and translation of proteins. We provide further evidence of the pleiotropic effect of rosuvastatin on endothelial physiology.
The 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, commonly referred to as statins, are prescribed to patients to improve serum lipid profiles. The cholesterol-independent pleiotropic effects of statins include improvement of endothelial function, reduction of oxidative stress, prevention of platelet aggregation and stabilization of atherosclerotic plaques . Statins exert a protective effect against plaque inflammation and rupture by the reduction of cyclooxygenase-2 and matrix metallopeptidase-9 expression . Statins also increase the expression of heme oxygenase-1, which is involved in the stress response . Increasing evidence suggests that nitric oxide (NO) plays a role in these statin-mediated pleiotropic effects. Statin treatment increases endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression by enhancing eNOS mRNA stability . Statins promote eNOS activity through the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and PI3K/Akt pathways [5, 6]. This statin-mediated eNOS activation exerts antioxidant effects that decrease reactive oxygen species production . Upregulation of eNOS by statins protects against stroke . Statins induce eNOS activation during hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension . Krueppel-like factor-2, a transcription factor responsible for eNOS expression, is upregulated after statin treatment .
S-nitrosylation of proteins involves a covalent reaction between NO and a reactive cysteine thiol to form S-nitrosothiol. This cGMP-independent posttranslational modification contributes to various stimuli-mediated cellular signaling . S-nitrosylation can influence protein structure/conformation and enzyme activity. Studies have suggested that S-nitrosylation prevents thiols from irreversible oxidative modification [5, 12]. S-nitrosylation has emerged as a fundamental protein modification that is essential for normal cardiovascular function. It is conceivable that NO-mediated S-nitrosylation and protein expression contribute to statin-induced pleiotropic effects.
Rosuvastatin is hydrophilic and possesses the lowest inhibition coefficient (IC50 =5.4 nM) compared with the other statins . Rosuvastatin protects the vasculature by attenuating the release of inflammatory mediators and by suppressing monocyte adhesion. In addition, the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinases and nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells is inhibited after rosuvastatin treatment . Mice pretreated with rosuvastatin show increased endothelial NO production and attenuated myocardial necrosis after ischemia/reperfusion . In the clinical setting, patients that switch to rosuvastatin from other statins have significantly lower low-density lipoprotein levels .
Considering the rapid progress in proteomics research, it would be interesting to determine the role of NO on rosuvastatin-exerted pleiotropic effects. In the current study, we found that human endothelial cells (ECs) treated with rosuvastatin stimulated eNOS activity with a subsequent increase in S-nitrosylation of endothelial proteins. By using a modified biotin switch approach, we identified the S-nitrosoproteome regulated by rosuvastatin. Moreover, endothelial protein expression was increased after rosuvastatin treatment, but it was suppressed by pretreating ECs with an eNOS inhibitor, indicating that NO modulates rosuvastatin-mediated proteins expression. Our results provide an opportunity to further elucidate the detailed mechanisms by which statin-regulated NO production contributes to lipid-lowering-independent pleiotropic effects.
Rosuvastatin activates eNOS and increases protein S-nitrosylation
Rosuvastatin increases S-nitrosylation in a posttranslational manner
Verification of S-nitrosylation of protein and the nitrosylated site
S-nitrosylated proteins identified by LC-MS/MS
Protein name a)
Accession number b)
Theoretical MW (kDa)/pI c)
Experimental MW (kDa)/pI d)
Sequence coverage (%)
PDI A3 precursor
Nitric oxide is involved in rosuvastatin-modulated protein expression
Rosuvastatin-modulated proteins identified by LC-MS/MS
Protein name a)
Accession number b)
Theoretical MW (kDa)/pI c)
Experimental MW (kDa)/pI d)
Sequence coverage (%)
Mitochondrial ATP synthase beta subunit precursor
Ubiquinol-cytochrome c reductase core I protein
Cargo selection protein TIP47
L-lactate dehydrogenase B
Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3, subunit 2 beta
Annexin V, chain A
Glia maturation factor, beta
SH3 domain binding glutamic acid-rich protein-like
Enhancer of rudimentary homolog
Phosphohistidine phosphatase 1 isoform 3
Cytochrome c oxidase subunit V precursor
ATP synthase, H+ transporting, mitochondrial F0 complex, subunit d, isoform a
Rho GDP dissociation inhibitor (GDI) beta
Statins have been widely used as lipid-lowering drugs prescribed to patients with cardiovascular diseases or metabolic disorders. Of particular interest, statins have been shown to increase bioavailability of NO and to protect against vascular inflammation and cardiac cell death [1, 3]. Among NO-mediated effects, NO-induced S-nitrosylation of proteins has been recognized as a fundamental posttranslational modification of proteins . This S-nitrosylation of proteins may exert statin-mediated pleiotropic effects in vascular ECs. In the current study, rosuvastatin increased eNOS and activation in a sustained manner (Figure 1), which is consistent with a previous study . The increased S-nitrosylation of proteins was analyzed by a modified biotin switch method as previously described . This approach has an advantage over other reported methodologies [18–20]. Further MS/MS analysis and use of a software algorithm identified the S-nitrosylated site of mt-HSP70 (Cys66) with a protein mass shift of 428.2 Da. To confirm the accuracy of the MS/MS data, the S-nitrosylation of two proteins (TPM and VIM) were verified by their respective antibodies (Figure 5). These S-nitrosylated proteins are heterogeneous in function and may play protective roles for the pleiotropic effects induced by this lipid-lowering drug.
HSPs exert a chaperon function and are involved in protection as well as pathogenesis of various tissues . In our study, three HSPs were identified with characteristics of enhanced S-nitrosylation. HSP60 and HSP70 are involved in the development of atherosclerosis . Mt-HSP70 has been identified as a HSP60 receptor on the cell surface, and it participates in autoantibody-induced endothelial apoptosis . The protective effects of statins on the vascular system may be partially caused by S-nitrosylation of these HSPs due to the known benefit of statins on endothelial integrity. Our previous study demonstrated that ECs under shear flow enhance the S-nitrosylation of HSP70 . S-nitrosylation of Cys597 in HSP90 reduces the ability to activate eNOS . In the present study, S-nitrosylation of Cys66 on the hydrophobic region of mt-HSP70 is consistent with the S-nitrosylation consensus motif that is surrounded by the hydrophobic microenvironment . S-nitrosylation of Cys66 mt-HSP70 may modulate chaperon function as previously suggested . It is unknown whether S-nitrosylation alters HSP properties that contribute to statin-derived pleiotropic effects, and therefore, this warrants further study.
Protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) catalyzes the formation and breakage of disulfide bonds within proteins. S-nitrosylation abrogates PDI-attenuated neurotoxicity . PDI has also been identified as an “NO carrier” that facilitates the introduction of NO from outside the cell via S-nitrosylation/de-nitrosylation . Our previous studies showed that ECs exposed to shear flow or an NO donor increase S-nitrosylation of PDI and related proteins [17, 23]. In the present study, PDI-related protein (ES10) and PDI A3 precursor (ES11) were found to be S-nitrosylated in statin-treated ECs. S-nitrosylation of these PDI-related proteins may be physiologically important for maintaining endothelial integrity.
In the current study, three cytoskeletal proteins, vimentin (intermediate filaments), tubulin (microtubules) and actin (microfilaments) were identified with enhanced S-nitrosylation under rosuvastatin treatment. In addition, TPM, which regulates actin movement, was also found to be S-nitrosylated. These proteins are involved in the regulation of cell shape, cell adhesion and migration. Previous studies have indicated that these proteins could be S-nitrosylated under certain conditions [29, 30]. It is unclear whether S-nitrosylation of these cytoskeletal proteins affects endothelial migration after statin treatment.
In addition to rosuvastatin-mediated posttranslational S-nitrosylation, we also investigated translational protein levels. Some proteins were shown to be upregulated by rosuvastatin treatment and then suppressed by L-NAME pretreatment, indicating that NO participates in rosuvastatin-induced protein expression. These proteins were functionally grouped into glucose homeostasis (lactate dehydrogenase and glucose-3-phosphate dehydrogenase), energy production (cytochrome c oxidase and mt-ATPase F0 complex), protein folding (ER-60 protease) and anti-inflammation (Rho GDP dissociation inhibitor [GDI]). ER-60 protease (U2) is a cysteine protease that degrades misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum . Rho-family proteins act as activators of a number of nuclear transcription factors that may reduce NO production and promote inflammatory responses via the Rho-Rho kinase pathway. We also identified a negative regulator of Rho proteins, Rho GDI . Statins have been found to disrupt the interaction between Rho and Rho GDI, and therefore, negatively regulate Rho-family function, which is consistent with the anti-inflammatory effect of rosuvastatin .
Our results clearly indicated that rosuvastatin treatment increased S-nitrosylation of proteins and altered protein expression. The detailed mechanisms of the protein expression modulated by rosuvastatin-induced NO remain unclear and need to be further investigated. Nevertheless, these posttranslational S-nitrosoproteomes and translational proteomes provide a basis for further study on the pleiotropic effects of statins in the cardiovascular system.
Pleiotropic effects of statins have attracted attention from therapeutic and clinical researchers. By using a modified biotin switch methodology, we were able to identify 17 S-nitrosoproteomes regulated by rosuvastatin. In addition, L-NAME treatment confirmed that nitric oxide plays an important role in endothelial protein expression. Our results provide further evidence of the detailed mechanisms of statin/NO-mediated pleiotropic effects.
ECs were isolated from the human umbilical cord as described previously . The experimental procedure conformed to the principles outlined in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki for the use of human tissue or subjects. ECs were cultured in M199 medium supplemented with fetal bovine serum (20%, v/v), streptomycin (100 μg/ml) and penicillin (100 U/ml). ECs were replaced with M199 medium containing 2% (v/v) fetal bovine serum and were incubated overnight prior to rosuvastatin (AstraZeneca, Taipei, Taiwan) treatment. To evaluate whether protein expression was NO-dependent, ECs were co-incubated with an eNOS inhibitor, (L-NAME, 1 mM; Calbiochem) and rosuvastatin (10 μM) for 24 h.
Cell lysis and protein extraction
ECs after rosuvastatin treatment were washed with cord buffer (0.14 M NaCl, 4 mM KCl, 11 mM glucose, and 10 mM HEPES, pH 7.4), and then lysed with 300 μl lysis buffer (250 mM Hepes, pH 7.7, 1 mM EDTA, 0.1 mM neocuproine and 0.4%,w/v CHAPS). After centrifugation at 10,000 × g for 10 min at 4°C, the supernatant was collected, and the protein concentration of the supernatant was determined with the BCA assay (Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., USA).
For 2-DE separation, protein lysates were precipitated with ice-cold acetone at −20°C. After centrifugation, the protein pellets were air-dried and dissolved in sample buffer (9 M urea, 2%, w/v CHAPS,60 mM DL-dithiothreitol [DTT], and 2% v/v IPG solution, pH 4–7, GE Healthcare, USA) at room temperature for 30 min. The denatured proteins were mixed with rehydration buffer (8 M urea, 2% w/v CHAPS, 0.5% v/v IPG solution, pH 4–7, and 30 mM DTT) and soaked into an 18-cm DryStrip (pH 4–7, GE Healthcare) for up to 12 h using an Ettan IPGphor system (GE Healthcare). After isoelectric focusing at an accumulated voltage of 60 kVh, the strip gels were incubated with equilibration buffer (2% w/v SDS, 50 mM Tris–HCl, pH 8.8, 6 M urea, 30% v/v glycerol and 60 mM DTT) for 20 min, and then they were equilibrated with the same buffer containing iodoacetic acid (IAA, 135 mM) for an additional 20 min. The equilibrated isoelectric focusing strip was placed on the top of a vertical SDS-PAGE to separate proteins.
S-nitrosylation was determined by the biotin switch method as previously described by Jaffrey . In brief, the treated ECs were washed with cold buffer (10 mM Hepes, pH 7.4, 0.14 M NaCl, 4 mM KCl and 11 mM glucose). Cell lysates were obtained with lysis buffer (250 mM Hepes, pH 7.7, 1 mM EDTA, 0.1 mM neocuproine, and 0.4% w/v CHAPS). Free thiols in the protein extracts (0.8 mg/ml) were methylated with blocking buffer (225 mM Hepes, pH 7.7, 0.9 mM EDTA, 0.09 mM neocuproine, 2.5% w/v SDS and 20 mM MMTS) at 50°C for 20 min with agitation. MMTS-treated lysate was precipitated with cold acetone and the resulting pellet was resuspended in HENS buffer (250 mM Hepes, pH 7.7, 1 mM EDTA, 0.1 mM neocuproine and 1% w/v SDS). This was followed by addition of HENS buffer containing 4 mM N-[6-(biotinamido)hexyl]-3′-(2′-pyridyldithio) propionamide (biotin-HPDP/DMF) mixed with 1 mM sodium ascorbate. The protein lysate:biotin-HPDP mixture was incubated at room temperature for 1 h to allow biotinylation to occur. These mixtures were precipitated with cold acetone to remove excess biotin-HPDP and then stored at −20°C for subsequent studies.
Detection of biotinylated proteins with non-reduced 2-DE
In the current study, biotinylated lysates derived from the biotin switch were dissolved in the buffers acquired for 2-DE analysis. To prevent the dissociation of labeled biotin molecules, DTT was excluded from those buffers that were used for the translational proteome as described in the above section. Two-DE gels were stained with VisPRO (Visual Protein Biotech, Taipei, Taiwan) to determine protein translational levels, and then western blotting was performed with streptavidin-HRP (1:3000) to determine proteins that were posttranslationally S-nitrosylated. Western blotted membranes were developed with Super Signal West Femto reagent (Thermo Fisher Scientific) and exposed to X-ray film. The X-ray film and the VisPRO-stained gel were scanned by a digital scanner (Microtek, International Inc., Taipei, Taiwan). Results were analyzed by Progenesis Samespots v2.0 software (NonLinear Dynamics, UK). The proteins with increased S-nitrosylation were collected from a separate 2-DE gel with VisPRO staining and were subjected to mass analysis as previously described .
Mass spectrometry analysis
Excised gel slices were digested with trypsin for 4 h at 37°C (In-Gel Tryptic Digestion kit, Thermo Fisher Scientific). The tryptic peptides were desalted on a proteomics C18 column (Mass Solution Ltd., Taiwan) and subjected to mass analysis by CapLC/Q-TOF (Micromass, UK). Mass spectrometry data were searched against the NCBInr database using a MASCOT in-house search program (Matrixscience, UK). Peptides containing a biotinylated cysteine were determined with the mass shift of 428.2 Da. Search parameters were set as follows: mass values, monoisotopic; protein mass, unrestricted; peptide mass tolerance, ± 0.4 Da; fragment mass tolerance, ± 0.4 Da; and maximum missed cleavages, 1. The hydrophobicity of S-nitrosylated cysteine (Cys66) was predicted by HYDROPHOBICITY PLOT software on the website (http://www.bmm.icnet.uk/~offman01/hydro.html).
Purification of biotinylated protein
The biotinylated proteins (i.e., the S-nitrosoproteins) were pulled down using neutravidin-agarose beads (15 μl/per mg of initiated protein input) in neutralization buffer (20 mM Hepes, pH 7.7, 100 mM NaCl, 1 mM EDTA and 0.5% v/v Triton X-100). The agarose beads were rinsed with washing buffer (20 mM Hepes, pH 7.7, 600 mM NaCl, 1 mM EDTA and 0.5% v/v Triton X-100), and then incubated with elution buffer (20 mM Hepes, pH 7.7, 100 mM NaCl, 1 mM EDTA and 100 mM 2-mercaptoethanol) for 20 min at 37°C, with gentle agitation to release neutravidin-bound proteins. These eluted biotinylated proteins were mixed with SDS-PAGE sample buffer (2% w/v SDS, 50 mM Tris–HCl, pH 6.8, 30% v/v glycerol and 100 mM 2-mercaptoethanol) to perform SDS-PAGE and western blotting to validate S-nitrosylation of protein detected in 2-DE.
This work was supported in part by the grants NSC 96-2320-B-001-021, NSC 98-2752-B-001-001 and NSC 100-2320-B-037-001 from the National Science Council, Taipei. The Thematic Project AS-97-FP-L07 from Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, and the Q100003 project from Kaohsiung Medical School, Kaohsiung, Taiwan were also obtained. We are grateful to the core facility laboratory of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, and the Center for Resources, Research and Development of Kaohsiung Medical School for mass spectrometric analysis. We also acknowledge AstraZeneca, Taiwan, for providing the rosuvastatin powder.
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