Chemical tools for the study of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and sulfane sulfur and their applications to biological studies

Yoko Takano, Kazuhito Shimamoto, Kenjiro Hanaoka

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) functions in many physiological processes, including relaxation of vascular smooth muscles, mediation of neurotransmission, inhibition of insulin signaling, and regulation of inflammation. On the other hand, sulfane sulfur, which is a sulfur atom with six valence electrons but no charge, has the unique ability to bind reversibly to other sulfur atoms to form hydroper sulfides (R-S-SH) and polysulfides (-S-Sn-S-). H2S and sulfane sulfur always coexist, and recent work suggests that sulfane sulfur species may be the actual signaling molecules in at least some biological phenomena. For example, one of the mechanisms of activity regulation of proteins by H2S is the S-sulfhydration of cysteine residues (protein Cys-SSH). In this review, we summarize recent progress on chemical tools for the study of H2S and sulfane sulfur, covering fluorescence probes utilizing various design strategies, H2S caged compounds, inhibitors of physiological H2S-producing enzymes (cystathionine γ-lyase, cystathionine β-synthase and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtrans-ferase), and labeling reagents. Fluorescence probes offer particular advantages as chemical tools to study physiological functions of biomolecules, including ease of use and real-time, nondestructive visualization of biological processes in live cells and tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Caged compound
  • Enzyme inhibitor
  • Fluorescence probe
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Sulfane sulfur

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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