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Concept: Thiols


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder in which a significant number of the children experience a developmental regression characterized by a loss of previously acquired skills and abilities. Typically reported are losses of verbal, nonverbal, and social abilities. Several recent studies suggest that children diagnosed with an ASD have abnormal sulfation chemistry, limited thiol availability, and decreased glutathione (GSH) reserve capacity, resulting in a compromised oxidation/reduction (redox) and detoxification capacity. Research indicates that the availability of thiols, particularly GSH, can influence the effects of thimerosal ™ and other mercury (Hg) compounds. TM is an organomercurial compound (49.55% Hg by weight) that has been, and continues to be, used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines, particularly in developing countries. Thiol-modulating mechanisms affecting the cytotoxicity of TM have been identified. Importantly, the emergence of ASD symptoms post-6 months of age temporally follows the administration of many childhood vaccines. The purpose of the present critical review is provide mechanistic insight regarding how limited thiol availability, abnormal sulfation chemistry, and decreased GSH reserve capacity in children with an ASD could make them more susceptible to the toxic effects of TM routinely administered as part of mandated childhood immunization schedules.

Concepts: Autism, Disulfide bond, Glutathione, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, Cysteine, Thiol, Thiols


A method based on the differential reactivity of thiol and thiolate with monobromobimane (mBBr) has been developed to measure nucleophilicity and acidity of protein and low-molecular weight thiols. Nucleophilicity of the thiolate is measured as the pH-independent second-order rate constant of its reaction with mBBr. The ionization constants of the thiols are obtained through the pH dependence of either second-order rate constant or initial rate of reaction. For readily available thiols, the apparent second-order rate constant is measured at different pHs and then plotted and fitted to an appropriate pH-function describing the observed number of ionization equilibria. For less available thiols, such as protein thiols, the initial rate of reaction is determined in a wide range of pHs and fitted to the appropriate pH-function. The method presented herein shows excellent sensitivity allowing the use of nanomolar concentrations of reagents. The method is suitable for scaling and high-throughput screening. Example determinations of nucleophilicity and pK(a) are presented for captopril and cysteine as low-molecular weight thiols and human peroxiredoxin 5 and Trypanosoma brucei monothiol glutaredoxin 1 as protein thiols.

Concepts: Disulfide bond, Glutathione, Trypanosoma brucei, Cysteine, Rate equation, Reaction rate, Thiol, Thiols


Platinum (Pt) based micromotors have shown many exciting applications when functionalized using gold-thiol chemistry. However, thiols are known to bind to the Pt surface, which can lead to serious deactivation of the catalyst. In this paper, we demonstrate that manganese oxide (MnO2) can be used to protect Pt based micromotors prior to the thiol treatment, thus fully avoiding the catalyst poisoning. This approach will greatly facilitate the use of the functionalized Pt micromotors for which the thiol toxicity has been a limiting factor.

Concepts: Catalysis, Catalytic converter, Protection, Chlorine, Thiol, Manganese, Thiols, Manganese dioxide


The development of simple methods with high sensitivity and selectivity to differentiate toxic aromatic thiols (thiophenols) from aliphatic thiols (cysteine, homocysteine, and glutathione) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is of great significance. Herein, we report on the fabrication of a novel near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent sensor for rapid and highly selective detection of thiophenols through the photoinduced electron transfer (PET) mechanism. In the presence of the thiophenols, an obvious enhancement of NIR fluorescence at 658 nm could be visualized with the aid of nucleophilic aromatic substitution (SNAr) reaction. The sensor displays large Stokes shift (~ 227 nm), fast response time (< 30 s), high sensitivity (~ 8.3 nM), and good biocompatibility. Moreover, the as-prepared sensor possesses an excellent anti-interference feature even when other possible interferents exist (aliphatic thiols and H2S) and has been successfully utilized for thiophenol detection in both water samples and living cells. Graphical abstract Illustration of the sensor for thiophenol imaging in living cells.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Nucleophilic substitution, Substitution reaction, Nucleophilic aromatic substitution, Cysteine, Stokes shift, Nucleophilic acyl substitution, Thiols


Small molecule biothiols, including cysteine (Cys), homocysteine (Hcy), and glutathione (GSH), play many crucial roles in physiological processes. In this work, we have prepared a nitroolefin-based BODIPY fluorescent probe with excellent water solubility for detection thiols, which displayed ratiometric fluorescent signal for thiols. Incorporation of a nitroolefin unit to the BODIPY dye would transform it into a strong Michael acceptor, which would be highly susceptible to sulfhydryl nucleophiles. This probe shows an obvious ratio change upon response with thiols, an increase of the emission at 517 nm along with a concomitant decrease of fluorescence peak at 573 nm. Moreover, these successes of intracellular imaging experiments in A549 cells indicated that this probe is suitable for imaging of ex-/endogenous thiols in living cells.

Concepts: Amino acid, Antioxidant, Solubility, Disulfide bond, Glutathione, Cysteine, Thiol, Thiols


In the presence of CoA, cell-free extracts prepared from porcine liver was found to convert 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (DHF) to a pantetheine conjugate, which was a novel flavonoid. We purified a 7,8-DHF-converting enzyme from the extracts, and identified it as hemoglobin (Hb). The purified Hb showed the following two activities: (i) degradation of CoA into pantetheine through hydrolytic cleavage to yield pantetheine and 3'-phospho-adenosine-5'-diphosphate (ADP) independently of heme, and (ii) addition of a thiol (e.g., pantetheine, glutathione and cysteine) to 7,8-DHF through C-S bond formation. Human Hb also exhibited the above flavonoid-converting activity. In addition, heme-containing enzymes such as peroxidase and catalase added each of pantetheine, glutathione and cysteine to the flavonoid, although no pantetheine conjugates were synthesized when CoA was used as a substrate. These findings indicated that the thiol-conjugating activity is widely observed in heme-containing proteins. On the other hand, only Hb catalyzed the hydrolysis of CoA, followed by the thiol conjugation to synthesize the pantetheine conjugate. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report showing that Hb has the catalytic ability to convert naturally occurring bioactive compounds, such as dietary flavonoids, to the corresponding conjugates in the presence of thiol donors or CoA.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Enzyme, Catalysis, Ribozyme, Hydrolysis, Thiol, Thiols


Although widely used in organic synthesis, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, thiophenol has brought about a series of ecological problems due to its high toxicity. Therefore, the development of efficient methods to discriminate thiophenols from aliphatic thiols is of great importance. In this work, a new reaction-based turn-on red fluorescence probe for the detection of thiophenols has been developed for the first time by employing dicyanomethylene-4H-pyran (DCM) as a fluorescence reporter and 2,4-dinitrobenzene-sulfonate (DNBS) as a recognition unit. The probe displayed a highly selective and sensitive (63 fold-fluorescence enhancement) response to thiophenols over aliphatic thiols. Additionally, the probe also exhibited a large Stokes shift (159 nm) and the detection limit reached as low as 8.3 nM. Moreover, this probe was also proved suitable for the quantification of thiophenol in real environmental water samples.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Spectroscopy, Organic synthesis, Real number, Stokes shift, Thiols, Thiophenol


Natural peptidic thiols play numerous important roles in aquatic systems. While thiols are known to be susceptible to sensitized photoreaction, the photochemical transformation of thiols in surface waters remains largely unknown. This study systematically assessed the photochemical transformation of naturally occurring thiols, including arginylcysteine (RC), γ-glutamylcysteine (γEC), glutathione (GSH), and phytochelatin (PC) in solutions containing dissolved organic matter (DOM). The results show that all thiols underwent rapid indirect photochemical transformation. The transformation rates of thiols were highly pH-dependent and increased with increasing solution pH. γEC and GSH show lower transformation rates than free Cys, which was ascribed to their higher thiol pKa values. In comparison, PC and RC show much higher transformation rates than γEC and GSH, due to more reactive thiol groups contained in the PC molecule and sorption of RC to DOM macromolecules, respectively. While all investigated pathways contributed to thiol transformation, hydroxyl radical-mediated oxidation dominated at low solution pH and singlet oxygen-mediated oxidation dominated at high solution pH in the DOM-sensitized phototransformations of γEC, GSH, and PC. Furthermore, the effects of metal complexation and solution salinity on thiol transformation rates were examined. Thiol reactivity was not affected by Fe(3+) and Ag(+), slightly enhanced in the presence of Zn(2+), Cd(2+) and Hg(2+), and significantly enhanced by Cu(2+). Additionally, enhanced thiol transformation rates were observed in solutions with high salinity.

Concepts: Chemistry, Acid dissociation constant, Disulfide bond, Glutathione, Physical chemistry, Cysteine, Thiol, Thiols


Glycosyl thiols are widely used in stereoselective S-glycoside synthesis. Their epimerization from 1,2-trans to 1,2-cis thiols (e.g., equatorial to axial epimerization in thioglucopyranose) was attained using TiCl4, while SnCl4 promoted their axial-to-equatorial epimerization. The method included application for stereoselective β-d-manno- and β-l-rhamnopyranosyl thiol formation. Complex formation explains the equatorial preference when using SnCl4, whereas TiCl4 can shift the equilibrium toward the 1,2-cis thiol via 1,3-oxathiolane formation.

Concepts: Method acting, Thiol, Thiols


Precise control of the glutathione (GSH):glutathione disulfide (GSSG) balance is vital for the developing embryo, but it is not yet well understood how GSH levels and the GSH redox state are regulated, maintained, and modulated over the course of mammalian embryonic development. In this study, we characterize and connect thiol redox dynamics, protein synthesis, volumetric growth and net cysteine fluxes over the course of early organogenesis (gestational day (GD) 10 to GD11.13) in the rat embryo. Our results show that despite a significant exponential growth of conceptal volumes and protein mass, the GSH:GSSG redox balance is remarkably stable during early organogenesis, with distinct redox potentials for the visceral yolk sac (VYS) (-218mV) and the embryo proper (EMB) (-222mV). The yolk sac was found to play a key role in maintaining GSH levels and the GSH:GSSG redox balance in the developing embryo. Based on an overall cysteine (Cys) mass-balance, we show that until GD10.6, yolk sac supply of Cys, the rate-limiting precursor for GSH synthesis, is sufficient to sustain embryonic demands for its GSH synthesis and protein synthesis needs. After GD10.6, the EMB maintains the amino acid intake flux, resulting in a significant depletion of most thiols in the amniotic fluid and the yolk sac fluid. Cysteine, was found to be predominantly used for de novo protein synthesis in the developing embryo (approximately 90% of total Cys). Protein synthesis (rates) should thus be included in any quantitative assessment of GSH redox dynamics in the developing embryo. Our time-course dataset of thiol dynamics, developed exponential relationships for protein synthesis and volumetric growth, and yolk sac surface area-mediated protein influx, provide important quantitative insights in GSH redox dynamics during embryonic development and are a prerequisite to further develop quantitative ‘systems biology’ models for GSH metabolism in the developing embryo.

Concepts: Amino acid, Disulfide bond, Embryology, Glutathione, Cysteine, Thiol, Cystine, Thiols