Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. John Houghton - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Zehava Eichenbaum

Third Advisor

Dr. Barbara Baumstark


Metal toxicity is implicated in neurotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, aging and cancer. Protein oxidation resulting from oxidative stress is now known to be involved in metal toxicity. However, proteomic responses to metal induced oxidative stress have not been characterized. By using the yeast as a model, we characterized these changes occurring in response to sub-lethal doses of metals. Several proteins involved in protein synthesis, ribosome assembly decreased while antioxidant defenses, proteins involved in sulfur metabolism, and glutathione synthesis and ubiquitin increased following metal exposure. We also show that metals induced temporal and targeted protein oxidation independent of protein abundance. Among the targets were glycolytic enzymes and heat-shock proteins. As a consequence, glycolytic enzyme activities decreased whereas the levels and activities of the enzymes of the alternative pathway for glucose metabolism, pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) increased. True to prediction, we also found increased flow through the PPP as measured by elevated levels of NADPH and glutathione. NADPH and glutathione are crucial for maintaining the redox balance in the cell. Thus, rerouting of glucose metabolism into PPP is considered to be beneficial to the organism. Among the oxidation targets is a glycolytic protein, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) that is required for apoptosis in neuronal cells. We show that not only is GAPDH required for metal induced apoptosis in yeast but also the levels of GAPDH transcript and protein increase in the cytosol and the nucleus in an isoform specific fashion. Such changes strongly implicate the role of GAPDH in yeast apoptosis. This work provides evidence for the involvement of targeted protein oxidation in metal toxicity, shows the overlaps and differences in the mechanism of copper and cadmium toxicity, allows comprehension of how metabolic processes respond to metal stress and explores the potential of GAPDH as a sensor of oxidative stress and mediator for apoptosis.

Included in

Biology Commons