Glutaredoxins and thioredoxins are highly conserved, small, heat-stable oxidoreductases. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains two gene pairs encoding cytoplasmic glutaredoxins (GRX1, GRX2) and thioredoxins (TRX1, TRX2), and we have used multiple mutants to determine their roles in mediating resistance to oxidative stress caused by hydroperoxides. Our data indicate that TRX2 plays the predominant role, as mutants lacking TRX2 are hypersensitive, and mutants containing TRX2 are resistant to these oxidants. However, the requirement for TRX2 is only apparent during stationary phase growth, and we present three lines of evidence that the thioredoxin isoenzymes actually have redundant activities as antioxidants. First, the trx1 and trx2 mutants show wild-type resistance to hydroperoxide during exponential phase growth; secondly, overexpression of either TRX1 or TRX2 leads to increased resistance to hydroperoxides; and, thirdly, both Trx1 and Trx2 are equally able to act as cofactors for the thioredoxin peroxidase, Tsa1. The antioxidant activity of thioredoxins is required for both the survival of yeast cells as well as protection against oxidative stress during stationary phase growth, and correlates with an increase in the expression of both TRX1 and TRX2. We show that the requirement for thioredoxins during this growth phase is dependent on their activity as cofactors for the antioxidant enzyme Tsa1, and for regulation of the redox state and protein-bound levels of the low-molecular-weight antioxidant glutathione.
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