Lucigenin-dependent chemiluminescence together with 2-[4-iodophenyl]-3-[4-nitrophenyl]-5-[2,4-disulfophenyl]-2H tetrazolium monosodium salt (WST-1) reduction can be detected following addition of NADH to many cell types, including human sperm suspensions. Although many reports suggest that such a phenomenon is due to reactive oxygen species production, other oxygen detecting metabolite probes, such as MCLA and luminol, do not produce a chemiluminescent signal in this model system. The enzyme responsible for NADH-dependent lucigenin chemiluminescence was purified and identified as cytochrome-b5 reductase. In support of this concept, COS-7 cells overexpressing cytochrome-b5 reductase displayed at least a 3-fold increase in the previously mentioned activity compared with mock-transfected cells. Fractions containing cytochrome-b5 reductase were capable of inducing both lucigenin-dependent chemiluminescence and WST-1 reduction. Oxygen radicals clearly did not mediate the cytochrome b5-mediated activation of these probes in vitro since neither luminol nor MCLA gave a chemiluminescence response in the presence of the enzyme and the cofactor NADH. These results emphasize the importance of the direct NADH-dependent reduction of these putative superoxide-sensitive probes by cytochrome-b5 reductase even though this enzyme does not, on its own accord, produce reactive oxygen species.
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