Hydrogen sulfide and polysulfides as signaling molecules.Proc Jpn Acad Ser B Phys Biol Sci. 2015; 91(4):131-59.PJ
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a familiar toxic gas that smells of rotten eggs. After the identification of endogenous H2S in the mammalian brain two decades ago, studies of this molecule uncovered physiological roles in processes such as neuromodulation, vascular tone regulation, cytoprotection against oxidative stress, angiogenesis, anti-inflammation, and oxygen sensing. Enzymes that produce H2S, such as cystathionine β-synthase, cystathionine γ-lyase, and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase have been studied intensively and well characterized. Polysulfides, which have a higher number of inner sulfur atoms than that in H2S, were recently identified as potential signaling molecules that can activate ion channels, transcription factors, and tumor suppressors with greater potency than that of H2S. This article focuses on our contribution to the discovery of these molecules and their metabolic pathways and mechanisms of action.