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Passive Regeneration Of Glutathione: Glutathione Reductase Regulation From The Freeze-tolerant North American Wood Frog, Rana Sylvatica

Neal J. Dawson, Kenneth B. Storey

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Wood frogs inhabit a broad range across North America, extending from the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains to the northern boreal forest. Remarkably they can survive the winter in a frozen state, where as much as 70% of their body water is converted into ice. During the frozen state, their hearts cease to pump blood, causing their cells to experience ischemia which can dramatically increase the production of reactive oxygen species produced within the cell. To overcome this, wood frogs have elevated levels of glutathione, a primary antioxidant. We examined the regulation of glutathione reductase, the enzyme involved in recycling glutathione, in both the frozen and unfrozen state (control). Glutathione reductase activity from both the control and frozen state showed dramatic reduction in substrate specificity (Km) for oxidized glutathione (50%) when measured in the presence of glucose (300mM) and a increase (157%) when measured in the presence of levels of urea (75mM) encountered in the frozen state. However, when we tested the synergistic effect of urea and glucose simultaneously, we observed a substantial reduction in the Km for oxidized glutathione (43%) to a value similar to that of glucose alone. In fact, we found no observable differences in the kinetic and structural properties of glutathione reductase between the two states. Therefore, a significant increase in the affinity for oxidized glutathione in the presence of endogenous levels of glucose, suggests that increased glutathione recycling may result due to passive regulation of glutathione reductase by rising levels of glucose during freezing.