Increased protein S-Glutathionylation in Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON)

Lei Zhou, James Chun Yip Chan, Stephanie Chupin, Naig Gueguen, Valérie Desquiret-Dumas, Siew Kwan Koh, Jianguo Li, Yan Gao, Lu Deng, Chandra Verma, Roger W. Beuerman, Eric Chun Yong Chan, Dan Milea, And Pascal Reynier

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON, MIM#535000) is the most common form of inherited optic neuropathies and mitochondrial DNA-related diseases. The pathogenicity of mutations in genes encoding components of mitochondrial Complex I is well established, but the underlying pathomechanisms of the disease are still unclear. Hypothesizing that oxidative stress related to Complex I deficiency may increase protein S-glutathionylation, we investigated the proteome-wide S-glutathionylation profiles in LHON (n = 11) and control (n = 7) fibroblasts, using the GluICAT platform that we recently developed. Glutathionylation was also studied in healthy fibroblasts (n = 6) after experimental Complex I inhibition. The significantly increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the LHON group by Complex I was shown experimentally. Among the 540 proteins which were globally identified as glutathionylated, 79 showed a significantly increased glutathionylation (p < 0.05) in LHON and 94 in Complex I-inhibited fibroblasts. Approximately 42% (33/79) of the altered proteins were shared by the two groups, suggesting that Complex I deficiency was the main cause of increased glutathionylation. Among the 79 affected proteins in LHON fibroblasts, 23% (18/79) were involved in energetic metabolism, 31% (24/79) exhibited catalytic activity, 73% (58/79) showed various non-mitochondrial localizations, and 38% (30/79) affected the cell protein quality control. Integrated proteo-metabolomic analysis using our previous metabolomic study of LHON fibroblasts also revealed similar alterations of protein metabolism and, in particular, of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. S-glutathionylation is mainly known to be responsible for protein loss of function, and molecular dynamics simulations and 3D structure predictions confirmed such deleterious impacts on adenine nucleotide translocator 2 (ANT2), by weakening its affinity to ATP/ADP. Our study reveals a broad impact throughout the cell of Complex I-related LHON pathogenesis, involving a generalized protein stress response, and provides a therapeutic rationale for targeting S-glutathionylation by antioxidative strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3027
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy
  • LHON
  • Mitochondrial Complex I
  • Proteomics
  • S-glutathionylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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