Phosphorylation of Xanthine Dehydrogenase/Oxidase in Hypoxia

Usamah S. Kayyali, Cameron Donaldson, Hailu Huang, Raja Abdelnour, Paul M. Hassoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The enzyme xanthine oxidase (XO) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several disease processes, such as ischemia-reperfusion injury, because of its ability to generate reactive oxygen species. The expression of XO and its precursor xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH) is regulated at pre- and posttranslational levels by agents such as lipopolysaccharide and hypoxia. Post-translational modification of the protein, for example through thiol oxidation or proteolysis, has been shown to be important in converting XDH to XO. The possibility of posttranslational modification of XDH/XO through phosphorylation has not been adequately investigated in mammalian cells, and studies have reported conflicting results. The present report demonstrates that XDH/XO is phosphorylated in rat pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (RPMEC) and that phosphorylation is greatly increased (∼50-fold) in response to acute hypoxia (4 h). XDH/XO phosphorylation appears to be mediated, at least in part, by casein kinase II and p38 kinase as inhibitors of these kinases partially prevent XDH/XO phosphorylation. In addition, the results indicate that p38 kinase, a stress-activated kinase, becomes activated in response to hypoxia (an ∼4-fold increase after 1 h of exposure of RPMEC to hypoxia) further supporting a role for this kinase in hypoxia-stimulated XDH/XO phosphorylation. Finally, hypoxia-induced XDH/XO phosphorylation is accompanied by a 2-fold increase in XDH/XO activity, which is prevented by inhibitors of phosphorylation. In summary, this study shows that XDH/XO is phosphorylated in hypoxic RPMEC through a mechanism involving p38 kinase and casein kinase II and that phosphorylation is necessary for hypoxia-induced enzymatic activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14359-14365
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 27 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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