Protein tyrosine residue (Y) nitration, a post-translational chemical-modification mode, has been associated with changes in protein activity and function; hence the accumulation of specific nitrated proteins in tissues may be used to monitor the onset and progression of pathological disorders. To verify the possible impact of nitration on postnatal muscle growth and regeneration, a pilot study was designed to examine the nitration/dysfunction of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a key ligand that is released from the extracellular tethering and activates myogenic stem satellite cells to enter the cell cycle upon muscle stretch and injury. Exposure of recombinant HGF (a hetero-dimer of α- and β-chains) to peroxynitrite induces Y nitration in HGF α-chain under physiological conditions. Physiological significance of this finding was emphasized by Western blotting that showed the NK1 segment of HGF (including a K1 domain critical for signaling-receptor c-met binding) undergoes nitration with a primary target of Y198. Peroxynitrite treatment abolished HGF-agonistic activity of the NK1 segment, as revealed by in vitro c-met binding and bromodeoxyuridine-incorporation assays. Importantly, direct-immunofluorescence microscopy of rat lower hind-limb muscles from two aged-groups (2-month-old “young” and 12-month-old “retired/adult”) provided in vivo evidence for age-related nitration of extracellular HGF (Y198). Overall, findings provide the insight that HGF/NK1 nitration/dysfunction perturbs myogenic stem cell dynamics and homeostasis; hence NK1 nitration may stimulate progression of muscular disorders and diseases including sarcopenia.
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