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Biochimie. 2013 Nov;95(11):2145-56. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2013.08.008. Epub 2013 Aug 15.

The thioredoxin system in the dental caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans and the food-industry bacterium Streptococcus thermophilus.

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Dipartimento di Medicina molecolare e Biotecnologie mediche, Università di Napoli Federico II, Via S. Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, Italy.


The Streptococcus genus includes the pathogenic species Streptococcus mutans, the main responsible of dental caries, and the safe microorganism Streptococcus thermophilus, used for the manufacture of dairy products. These facultative anaerobes control the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and indeed, both S. mutans and S. thermophilus possess a cambialistic superoxide dismutase, the key enzyme for a preventive action against ROS. To evaluate the properties of a crucial mechanism for repairing ROS damages, the molecular and functional characterization of the thioredoxin system in these streptococci was investigated. The putative genes encoding its protein components in S. mutans and S. thermophilus were analysed and the corresponding recombinant proteins were purified. A single thioredoxin reductase was obtained from either S. mutans (SmTrxB) or S. thermophilus (StTrxB1), whereas two thioredoxins were prepared from either S. mutans (SmTrxA and SmTrxH1) or S. thermophilus (StTrxA1 and StTrxA2). Both SmTrxB and StTrxB1 reduced the synthetic substrate DTNB in the presence of NADPH, whereas only SmTrxA and StTrxA1 accelerated the insulin reduction in the presence of DTT. To reconstitute an in vitro streptococcal thioredoxin system, the combined activity of the thioredoxin components was tested through the insulin precipitation in the absence of DTT. The assay functions with a combination of SmTrxB or StTrxB1 with either SmTrxA or StTrxA1. These results suggest that the streptococcal members of the thioredoxin system display a direct functional interaction between them and that these protein components are interchangeable within the Streptococcus genus. In conclusion, our data prove the existence of a functioning thioredoxin system even in these microaerophiles.


5,5′-dithiobis-2-nitrobenzoic acid (DTNB); DTNB; DTT; Dental pathogen; E(a); Food industry bacterium; IPTG; Microaerophiles; ROS; SOD; Sm; St; Streptococcus mutans; Streptococcus species; Streptococcus thermophilus; Thioredoxin system; Trx-S(2) and Trx-(SH)(2); TrxA; TrxB; dithiothreitol; energy of activation; isopropyl-β-thiogalactopyranoside; oxidised and reduced form of TrxA, respectively; reactive oxygen species; superoxide dismutase; thioredoxin; thioredoxin reductase

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