Research ArticleBIOCHEMISTRY

SQR mediates therapeutic effects of H2S by targeting mitochondrial electron transport to induce mitochondrial uncoupling

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Science Advances  26 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 35, eaaz5752
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz5752


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a gasotransmitter and a potential therapeutic agent. However, molecular targets relevant to its therapeutic actions remain enigmatic. Sulfide-quinone oxidoreductase (SQR) irreversibly oxidizes H2S. Therefore, SQR is assumed to inhibit H2S signaling. We now report that SQR-mediated oxidation of H2S drives reverse electron transport (RET) at mitochondrial complex I, which, in turn, repurposes mitochondrial function to superoxide production. Unexpectedly, complex I RET, a process dependent on high mitochondrial membrane potential, induces superoxide-dependent mitochondrial uncoupling and downstream activation of adenosine monophosphate–activated protein kinase (AMPK). SQR-induced mitochondrial uncoupling is separated from the inhibition of mitochondrial complex IV by H2S. Moreover, deletion of SQR, complex I, or AMPK abolishes therapeutic effects of H2S following intracerebral hemorrhage. To conclude, SQR mediates H2S signaling and therapeutic effects by targeting mitochondrial electron transport to induce mitochondrial uncoupling. Moreover, SQR is a previously unrecognized target for developing non-protonophore uncouplers with broad clinical implications.

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