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J Biol Chem. 1997 Jul 18;272(29):18044-50.

Characterization of Escherichia coli NrdH. A glutaredoxin-like protein with a thioredoxin-like activity profile.

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Medical Nobel Institute for Biochemistry, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


Ribonucleotides are converted to deoxyribonucleotides by ribonucleotide reductases. Either thioredoxin or glutaredoxin is a required electron donor for class I and II enzymes. Glutaredoxins are reduced by glutathione, thioredoxins by thioredoxin reductase. Recently, a glutaredoxin-like protein, NrdH, was isolated as the functional electron donor for a NrdEF ribonucleotide reductase, a class Ib enzyme, from Lactococcus lactis. The absence of glutathione in this bacterium raised the question of the identity of the intracellular reductant for NrdH. Homologues of NrdH are present in the genomes of Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium, upstream of the genes for the poorly transcribed nrdEF, separated from it by an open reading frame (nrdI) coding for a protein of unknown function. Overexpression of E. coli NrdH protein shows that it is a functional hydrogen donor with higher specificity for the class Ib (NrdEF) than for the class Ia (NrdAB) ribonucleotide reductase. Furthermore, this glutaredoxin-like enzyme is reduced by thioredoxin reductase and not by glutathione. We suggest that several uncharacterized glutaredoxin-like proteins present in the genomes of organisms lacking GSH, including archae, will also react with thioredoxin reductase and be related to the ancestors from which the GSH-dependent glutaredoxins have evolved by the acquisition of a GSH-binding site. We also show that NrdI, encoded by all nrdEF operons, has a stimulatory effect on ribonucleotide reduction.

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