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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Jun 6;97(12):6463-8.

Thiol-disulfide exchange is involved in the catalytic mechanism of peptide methionine sulfoxide reductase.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Physics, 1229 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1229, USA.


Peptide methionine sulfoxide reductase (MsrA; EC ) reverses the inactivation of many proteins due to the oxidation of critical methionine residues by reducing methionine sulfoxide, Met(O), to methionine. MsrA activity is independent of bound metal and cofactors but does require reducing equivalents from either DTT or a thioredoxin-regenerating system. In an effort to understand these observations, the four cysteine residues of bovine MsrA were mutated to serine in a series of permutations. An analysis of the enzymatic activity of the variants and their free sulfhydryl states by mass spectrometry revealed that thiol-disulfide exchange occurs during catalysis. In particular, the strictly conserved Cys-72 was found to be essential for activity and could form disulfide bonds, only upon incubation with substrate, with either Cys-218 or Cys-227, located at the C terminus. The significantly decreased activity of the Cys-218 and Cys-227 variants in the presence of thioredoxin suggested that these residues shuttle reducing equivalents from thioredoxin to the active site. A reaction mechanism based on the known reactivities of thiols with sulfoxides and the available data for MsrA was formulated. In this scheme, Cys-72 acts as a nucleophile and attacks the sulfur atom of the sulfoxide moiety, leading to the formation of a covalent, tetracoordinate intermediate. Collapse of the intermediate is facilitated by proton transfer and the concomitant attack of Cys-218 on Cys-72, leading to the formation of a disulfide bond. The active site is returned to the reduced state for another round of catalysis by a series of thiol-disulfide exchange reactions via Cys-227, DTT, or thioredoxin.

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