Cellular mechanisms that maintain redox homeostasis are crucial, providing buffering against oxidative stress. Glutathione, the most abundant low molecular weight thiol, is considered the major cellular redox buffer in most cells. To better understand how cells maintain glutathione redox homeostasis, cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were treated with extracellular oxidised glutathione (GSSG), and the effect on intracellular reduced glutathione (GSH) and GSSG were monitored over time. Intriguingly cells lacking GLR1 encoding the GSSG reductase in S. cerevisiae accumulated increased levels of GSH via a mechanism independent of the GSH biosynthetic pathway. Furthermore, residual NADPH-dependent GSSG reductase activity was found in lysate derived from glr1 cell. The cytosolic thioredoxin-thioredoxin reductase system and not the glutaredoxins (Grx1p, Grx2p, Grx6p and Grx7p) contributes to the reduction of GSSG. Over-expression of the thioredoxins TRX1 or TRX2 in glr1 cells reduced GSSG accumulation, increased GSH levels and reduced cellular glutathione Eh'. Conversely, deletion of TRX1 or TRX2 in the glr1 strain led to increased accumulation of GSSG, reduced GSH levels and increased cellular Eh'. Furthermore, it was found that purified thioredoxins can reduce GSSG to GSH in the presence of thioredoxin reductase and NADPH in a reconstituted in vitro system. Collectively, these data indicate that the thioredoxin-thioredoxin reductase system can function as an alternative system to reduce GSSG in S. cerevisiae in vivo.
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