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J Biol Chem. 2008 Feb 1;283(5):2814-21. Epub 2007 Nov 27.

Induction of cell membrane protrusions by the N-terminal glutaredoxin domain of a rare splice variant of human thioredoxin reductase 1.

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Medical Nobel Institute for Biochemistry, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


The human thioredoxin system has a wide range of functions in cells including regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation, immune system modulation, antioxidant defense, redox control of transcription factor activity, and promotion of cancer development. A key component of this enzymatic system is the selenoprotein thioredoxin reductase 1 (TrxR1), encoded by the TXNRD1 gene. Transcription of TXNRD1 involves alternative splicing, leading to a number of transcripts also encoding isoforms of TrxR1 that differ from each other at their N-terminal domains. Here we have studied the TXNRD1_v3 isoform containing an atypical N-terminal glutaredoxin (Grx) domain. Expression of the transcript of this isoform was found predominantly in testis but was also detected in ovary, spleen, heart, liver, kidney, and pancreas. By immunohistochemical analysis in human testis with antibodies specific for the Grx domain of TXNRD1_v3, the protein was found to be predominantly expressed in the Leydig cells. Expression of the TXNRD1_v3 transcript was also found in several cancer cell lines (HCC1937, H23, A549, U1810, or H157), and in HeLa cells, it was induced by estradiol or testosterone treatments. Surprisingly, green fluorescent protein fusions with the complete TXNRD1_v3 protein or with only its Grx domain localized to distinct cellular sites in proximity to actin, and furthermore, had a potent capacity to rapidly induce cell membrane protrusions. Analyses of these structures suggested that the Grx domain of TXNRD1_v3 localizes first in the emerging protrusion and is then followed into the protrusions by actin and subsequently by tubulin. The results presented thus reveal that TXNRD1_v3 has a unique and distinct expression pattern in human cells and suggest that the protein can guide actin polymerization in relation to cell membrane restructuring.

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