Protective mechanisms against homocysteine toxicity: The role of bleomycin hydrolase

Jarosław Zimny, Marta Sikora, Andrzej Guranowski, Hieronim Jakubowski

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74 Scopus citations


Homocysteine (Hcy) editing by methionyl-tRNA synthetase results in the formation of Hcy-thiolactone and initiates a pathway that has been implicated in human disease. In addition to being cleared from the circulation by urinary excretion, Hcy-thiolactone is detoxified by the serum Hcy-thiolactonase/ paraoxonase carried on high density lipoprotein. Whether Hcy-thiolactone is detoxified inside cells was unknown. Here we show that Hcy-thiolactone is hydrolyzed by an intracellular enzyme, which we have purified to homogeneity from human placenta and identified by proteomic analyses as human bleomycin hydrolase (hBLH). We have also purified an Hcy-thiolactonase from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and identified it as yeast bleomycin hydrolase (yBLH). BLH belongs to a family of evolutionarily conserved cysteine aminopeptidases, and its only known biologically relevant function was deamidation of the anticancer drug bleomycin. Recombinant hBLH or yBLH, expressed in Escherichia coli, exhibits Hcy-thiolactonase activity similar to that of the native enzymes. Active site mutations, C73A for hBLH and H369A for yBLH, inactivate Hcy-thiolactonase activities. Yeast blh1 mutants are deficient in Hcy-thiolactonase activity in vitro and in vivo, produce more Hcy-thiolactone, and exhibit greater sensitivity to Hcy toxicity than wild type yeast cells. Our data suggest that BLH protects cells against Hcy toxicity by hydrolyzing intracellular Hcy-thiolactone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22485-22492
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 11 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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