When grown in culture Mycobacterium smegmatis metabolized S-nitrosoglutathione to oxidized glutathione and nitrate, which suggested a possible involvement of an S-nitrosothiol reductase and mycobacterial haemoglobin. The mycothiol-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase from M. smegmatis was purified by a combination of Ni2+-IMAC (immobilized metal ion affinity chromatography), hydrophobic interaction, anion-exchange and affinity chromatography. The enzyme had a subunit molecular mass of 38263 kDa. Steady-state kinetic studies indicated that the enzyme catalyses the NAD+-dependent conversion of S-hydroxymethylmycothiol into formic acid and mycothiol by a rapid-equilibrium ordered mechanism. The enzyme also catalysed an NADH-dependent decomposition of S-nitrosomycothiol (MSNO) by a sequential mechanism and with an equimolar stoichiometry of NADH:MSNO, which indicated that the enzyme reduces the nitroso group to the oxidation level of nitroxyl. Vmax for the MSNO reductase reaction indicated a turnover per subunit of approx. 116700 min−1, which was 76-fold faster than the formaldehyde dehydrogenase activity. A gene, Rv2259, annotated as a class III alcohol dehydrogenase in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome was cloned and expressed in M. smegmatis as the C-terminally His6-tagged product. The purified recombinant enzyme from M. tuberculosis also catalysed both activities. M. smegmatis S-nitrosomycothiol reductase converted MSNO into the N-hydroxysulphenamide, which readily rearranged to mycothiolsulphinamide. In the presence of MSNO reductase, M. tuberculosis HbN (haemoglobin N) was converted with low efficiency into metHbN [HbN(Fe3+)] and this conversion was dependent on turnover of MSNO reductase. These observations suggest a possible route in vivo for the dissimilation of S-nitrosoglutathione.

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