Biological reactivity of hypochlorous acid: implications for microbicidal mechanisms of leukocyte myeloperoxidase.
Oxidative degradation of biological substrates by hypochlorous acid has been examined under reaction conditions similar to those found in active phagosomes. Iron sulfur proteins are bleached extremely rapidly, followed in decreasing order by beta-carotene, nucleotides, porphyrins, and heme proteins. Enzymes containing essential cysteine molecules are inactivated with an effectiveness that roughly parallels the nucleophilic reactivities of their sulfhydryl groups. Other compounds, including glucosamines, quinones, riboflavin, and, except for N-chlorination, phospholipids, are unreactive. Rapid irreversible oxidation of cytochromes, adenine nucleotides, and carotene pigments occurs when bacterial cells are exposed to exogenous hypochlorous acid; with Escherichia coli, titrimetric oxidation of cytochrome was found to coincide with loss of aerobic respiration. The occurrence of these cellular reactions implicates hypochlorous acid as a primary microbicide in myeloperoxidase-containing leukocytes; the reactivity patterns observed are consistent with the view that bactericidal action results primarily from loss of energy-linked respiration due to destruction of cellular electron transport chains and the adenine nucleotide pool.