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J Biol Chem. 1999 Feb 19;274(8):4722-34.

Molecular cloning and characterization of a mitochondrial selenocysteine-containing thioredoxin reductase from rat liver.

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Laboratory of Cell Signaling, NHLBI, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


A thioredoxin reductase (TrxR), named here TrxR2, that did not react with antibodies to the previously identified TrxR (now named TrxR1) was purified from rat liver. Like TrxR1, TrxR2 was a dimeric enzyme containing selenocysteine (Secys) as the COOH-terminal penultimate residue. A cDNA encoding TrxR2 was cloned from rat liver; the open reading frame predicts a polypeptide of 526 amino acids with a COOH-terminal Gly-Cys-Secys-Gly motif provided that an in-frame TGA codon encodes Secys. The 3'-untranslated region of the cDNA contains a canonical Secys insertion sequence element. The deduced amino acid sequence of TrxR2 shows 54% identity to that of TrxR1 and contained 36 additional residues upstream of the experimentally determined NH2-terminal sequence. The sequence of this 36-residue region is typical of that of a mitochondrial leader peptide. Immunoblot analysis confirmed that TrxR2 is localized almost exclusively in mitochondria, whereas TrxR1 is a cytosolic protein. Unlike TrxR1, which was expressed at a level of 0.6 to 1.6 microgram/milligram of total soluble protein in all rat tissues examined, TrxR2 was relatively abundant (0.3 to 0.6 microgram/mg) only in liver, kidney, adrenal gland, and heart. The specific localization of TrxR2 in mitochondria, together with the previous identification of mitochondria-specific thioredoxin and thioredoxin-dependent peroxidase, suggest that these three proteins provide a primary line of defense against H2O2 produced by the mitochondrial respiratory chain.

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