Oxyhemoglobin exposed to a continuous flux of H2O2 underwent oxidative modifications, including limited release of fluorescent fragmentation products. The main fragments formed were identified as oxidation products of tyrosine, including dopamine, dopamine quinone, and dihydroxyindol. Further release of these oxidation products plus dityrosine was only seen after proteolytic degradation of the oxidatively modified hemoprotein. A possible mechanism is proposed to explain the formation of these oxidation products that includes cyclization, decarboxylation, and further oxidation of the intermediates. Release of dityrosine is proposed as a useful technique for evaluating selective proteolysis after an oxidative stress, because dityrosine is metabolically stable, and it is only released after enzymatic hydrolysis of the oxidatively modified protein. The measurement can be accomplished by high performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection or by high efficiency thin layer chromatography. Comparable results, in terms of dityrosine release, were obtained using red blood cells of different sources after exposing them to a flux of H2O2. Furthermore, dityrosine has been reported to occur in a wide variety of oxidatively modified proteins. These observations suggest that dityrosine formation and release can be used as a highly specific marker for protein oxidation and selective proteolysis.
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