Significance: Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) plays roles in many physiological processes, including relaxation of vascular smooth muscles, mediation of neurotransmission, inhibition of insulin signaling, and regulation of inflammation. Also, hydropersulfide (R-S-SH) and polysulfide (-S-Sn-S-) have recently been identified as reactive sulfur species (RSS) that regulate the bioactivities of multiple proteins via S-sulfhydration of cysteine residues (protein Cys-SSH) and show cytoprotection. Chemical tools such as fluorescent probes and selective inhibitors are needed to establish in detail the physiological roles of H2S and polysulfide. Recent Advances: Although many fluorescent probes for H2S are available, fluorescent probes for hydropersulfide and polysulfide have only recently been developed and used to detect these sulfur species in living cells. Critical Issues: In this review, we summarize recent progress in developing chemical tools for the study of H2S, hydropersulfide, and polysulfide, covering fluorescent probes based on various design strategies and selective inhibitors of H2S- and polysulfide-producing enzymes (cystathionine γ-lyase, cystathionine β-synthase, and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase), and we summarize their applications in biological studies. Future Directions: Despite recent progress, the precise biological functions of H2S, hydropersulfide, and polysulfide remain to be fully established. Fluorescent probes and selective inhibitors are effective chemical tools to study the physiological roles of these sulfur molecules in living cells and tissues. Therefore, further development of a broad range of practical fluorescent probes and selective inhibitors as tools for studies of RSS biology is currently attracting great interest.
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