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J Biol Chem. 2003 Aug 29;278(35):33020-8. Epub 2003 Jun 19.

The mechanism of high Mr thioredoxin reductase from Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0606, USA.


Drosophila melanogaster thioredoxin reductase-1 (DmTrxR-1) is a key flavoenzyme in dipteran insects, where it substitutes for glutathione reductase. DmTrxR-1 belongs to the family of dimeric, high Mr thioredoxin reductases, which catalyze reduction of thioredoxin by NADPH. Thioredoxin reductase has an N-terminal redox-active disulfide (Cys57-Cys62) adjacent to the flavin and a redox-active C-terminal cysteine pair (Cys489'-Cys490' in the other subunit) that transfer electrons from Cys57-Cys62 to the substrate thioredoxin. Cys489'-Cys490' functions similarly to Cys495-Sec496 (Sec = selenocysteine) and Cys535-XXXX-Cys540 in human and parasite Plasmodium falciparum enzymes, but a catalytic redox center formed by adjacent Cys residues, as observed in DmTrxR-1, is unprecedented. Our data show, for the first time in a high Mr TrxR, that DmTrxR-1 oscillates between the 2-electron reduced state, EH2, and the 4-electron state, EH4, in catalysis, after the initial priming reduction of the oxidized enzyme (Eox) to EH2. The reductive half-reaction consumes 2 eq of NADPH in two observable steps to produce EH4. The first equivalent yields a FADH--NADP+ charge-transfer complex that reduces the adjacent disulfide to form a thiolate-flavin charge-transfer complex. EH4 reacts with thioredoxin rapidly to produce EH2. In contrast, Eox formation is slow and incomplete; thus, EH2 of wild-type cannot reduce thioredoxin at catalytically competent rates. Mutants lacking the C-terminal redox center, C489S, C490S, and C489S/C490S, are incapable of reducing thioredoxin and can only be reduced to EH2 forms. Additional data suggest that Cys57 attacks Cys490' in the interchange reaction between the N-terminal dithiol and the C-terminal disulfide.

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