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J Mol Biol. 2008 Apr 11;377(5):1433-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.01.058. Epub 2008 Jan 31.

Mutants in DsbB that appear to redirect oxidation through the disulfide isomerization pathway.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Disulfide bond formation occurs in secreted proteins in Escherichia coli when the disulfide oxidoreductase DsbA, a soluble periplasmic protein, nonspecifically transfers a disulfide to a substrate protein. The catalytic disulfide of DsbA is regenerated by the inner-membrane protein DsbB. To help identify the specificity determinants in DsbB and to understand the nature of the kinetic barrier preventing direct oxidation of newly secreted proteins by DsbB, we imposed selective pressure to find novel mutations in DsbB that would function to bypass the need for the disulfide carrier DsbA. We found a series of mutations localized to a short horizontal alpha-helix anchored near the outer surface of the inner membrane of DsbB that eliminated the need for DsbA. These mutations changed hydrophobic residues into nonhydrophobic residues. We hypothesize that these mutations may act by decreasing the affinity of this alpha-helix to the membrane. The DsbB mutants were dependent on the disulfide oxidoreductase DsbC, a soluble periplasmic thiol-disulfide isomerase, for complementation. DsbB is not normally able to oxidize DsbC, possibly due to a steric clash that occurs between DsbC and the membrane adjacent to DsbB. DsbC must be in the reduced form to function as an isomerase. In contrast, DsbA must remain oxidized to function as an oxidizing thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase. The lack of interaction that normally exists between DsbB and DsbC appears to provide a means to separate the DsbA-DsbB oxidation pathway and the DsbC-DsbD isomerization pathway. Our mutants in DsbB may act by redirecting oxidant flow to take place through the isomerization pathway.

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