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J Mol Biol. 2004 May 7;338(4):745-55.

A peroxiredoxin specifically expressed in two types of pharyngeal neurons is required for normal growth and egg production in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Bernhard Nocht Str. 74, 20359 Hamburg, Germany.


A family of antioxidant proteins, the peroxiredoxins, serve two purposes, detoxification of reactive oxygen species and cellular signaling. Among the three peroxiredoxins of Caenorhabditis elegans (CePrx1-3), CePrx2 was found to have a very unusual expression pattern, restricted to only two types of pharyngeal neurons; namely, the single pharyngeal interneuron I4 and the sensory interneuron I2. CePrx1 and CePrx3-depleted worms showed no obvious phenotypic alterations, whereas worms devoid of CePrx2 were retarded developmentally and had a significantly reduced brood size. Other features, such as lifespan, pharyngeal activity or defecation rates were indistinguishable from those of wild-type worms. Recombinant CePrx2 revealed antioxidant activity, as it was able to detoxify hydrogen peroxide and butylhydroperoxide (t-BOOH), and to protect glutamine synthetase from inactivation by thiol-dependent metal-catalyzed oxidation. In addition, the molecule was able to act as a terminal peroxidase in the thioredoxin system. Expression of ceprx2 in C.elegans was induced after short-term exposure of worms to t-BOOH but survival of ceprx2 knockout mutants in the presence of reactive oxygen or nitrogen species was not impaired. Thus, CePrx2 may protect specifically the two types of neurons from oxidative damage or, more likely, plays a critical role in peroxide signaling in this nematode.

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