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J Biol Chem. 2007 Oct 26;282(43):31429-36. Epub 2007 Aug 24.

Molecular mechanism of oxidative stress perception by the Orp1 protein.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


In this study we investigated the molecular mechanism by which the Orp1 (Gpx3) protein in Saccharomyces cerevisiae senses and reacts with hydrogen peroxide. Upon exposure to H(2)O(2) Orp1(Cys36) forms a disulfide-bonded complex with the C-terminal domain of the Yap1 protein (Yap1-cCRD). We used 4-nitrobenzo-2-oxa-1,3-diazole to identify a cysteine sulfenic acid (Cys-SOH) modification that forms on Cys(36) of Orp1(Cys36) upon exposure to H(2)O(2). Under similar conditions, neither Cys(82) of Orp1(Cys82) nor Cys(598) of Yap1 forms Cys-SOH. A homology-based molecular model of Orp1 suggests that the structure of the active site of Orp1 is similar to that found in mammalian selenocysteine glutathione peroxidases. Proposed active site residues Gln(70) and Trp(125) form a catalytic triad with Cys(36) in the Orp1 molecular model. The remainder of the active site pocket is formed by Phe(38), Asn(126), and Phe(127), which are evolutionarily conserved residues. We made Q70A and W125A mutants and tested the ability of these mutants to form Cys-SOH in response to H(2)O(2). Both mutants were unable to form Cys-SOH and did not form a H(2)O(2)-inducible disulfide-bonded complex with Yap1-cCRD. The pK(a) of Cys(36) was determined to be 5.1, which is 3.2 pH units lower than that of a free cysteine (8.3). In contrast, Orp1 Cys(82) (the resolving cysteine) has a pK(a) value of 8.3. The pK(a) of Cys(36) in the Q70A and W125A mutants is also 8.3, demonstrating the importance of these residues in modulating the nucleophilic character of Cys(36). Finally, we show that S. cerevisiae strains with ORP1 Q70A and W125A mutations are less tolerant to H(2)O(2) than those containing wild-type ORP1. The results of our study suggest that attempts to identify novel redox-regulated proteins and signal transduction pathways should focus on characterization of low pK(a) cysteines.

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