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EMBO J. 1999 Jun 15;18(12):3271-81.

Complementation of DsbA deficiency with secreted thioredoxin variants reveals the crucial role of an efficient dithiol oxidant for catalyzed protein folding in the bacterial periplasm.

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Institut für Molekularbiologie und Biophysik, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Hönggerberg, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland.


The thiol/disulfide oxidoreductase DsbA is the strongest oxidant of the thioredoxin superfamily and is required for efficient disulfide bond formation in the periplasm of Escherichia coli. To determine the importance of the redox potential of the final oxidant in periplasmic protein folding, we have investigated the ability of the most reducing thiol/disulfide oxidoreductase, E.coli thioredoxin, of complementing DsbA deficiency when secreted to the periplasm. In addition, we secreted thioredoxin variants with increased redox potentials as well as the catalytic a-domain of human protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) to the periplasm. While secreted wild-type thioredoxin and the most reducing thioredoxin variant could not replace DsbA, all more oxidizing thioredoxin variants as well as the PDI a-domain could complement DsbA deficiency in a DsbB-dependent manner. There is an excellent agreement between the activity of the secreted thioredoxin variants in vivo and their ability to oxidize polypeptides fast and quantitatively in vitro. We conclude that the redox potential of the direct oxidant of folding proteins and in particular its reactivity towards reduced polypeptides are crucial for efficient oxidative protein folding in the bacterial periplasm.

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