Hypochlorous acid (HOCl), a powerful antimicrobial oxidant, is produced by neutrophils to fight infections. Here we show that N-chlorination, induced by HOCl concentrations encountered at sites of inflammation, converts blood plasma proteins into chaperone-like holdases that protect other proteins from aggregation. This chaperone-like conversion was reversible by antioxidants and was abrogated by prior methylation of basic amino acids. Furthermore, reversible N-chlorination of basic amino acid side chains is the major factor that converts plasma proteins into efficient activators of immune cells. Finally, HOCl-modified serum albumin was found to act as a pro-survival molecule that protects neutrophils from cell death induced by highly immunogenic foreign antigens. We propose that activation and enhanced persistence of neutrophils mediated by HOCl-modified plasma proteins, resulting in the increased and prolonged generation of ROS, including HOCl, constitutes a potentially detrimental positive feedback loop that can only be attenuated through the reversible nature of the modification involved.
- Lars I Leichert
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Jos WM van der Meer, Radboud University Medical Centre, Netherlands
© 2019, Ulfig et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.