Sodium hypochlorite and sodium chlorite are commonly used as disinfectants, and understanding the mechanisms of microbial resistance to these compounds is of considerable importance. In this study, the role of oxidative stress and antioxidant enzymes in the sensitivity of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to hypochlorite and chlorite was studied. Yeast mutants lacking Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase, but not mutants deficient in cytoplasmic and peroxisomal catalase, were hypersensitive to the action of both hypochlorite and chlorite. Both compounds depleted cellular glutathione, induced the production of reactive oxygen species and decreased the viability of the cells. The toxicity of hypochlorite and chlorite was abolished by hypoxic and anoxic conditions and ameliorated by thiol antioxidants and ascorbate. The results demonstrated that the action of hypochlorite and chlorite involves the formation of superoxide and peroxide and that SOD1 is protective, probably by limiting the formation of hydroxyl radicals and damage to proteins.
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