Selenium utilization in thioredoxin and catalytic advantage provided by selenocysteine

Moon Jung Kim, Byung Cheon Lee, Kwang Yeon Hwang, Vadim N. Gladyshev, Hwa Young Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Thioredoxin (Trx) is a major thiol-disulfide reductase that plays a role in many biological processes, including DNA replication and redox signaling. Although selenocysteine (Sec)-containing Trxs have been identified in certain bacteria, their enzymatic properties have not been characterized. In this study, we expressed a selenoprotein Trx from Treponema denticola, an oral spirochete, in Escherichia coli and characterized this selenoenzyme and its natural cysteine (Cys) homologue using E. coli Trx1 as a positive control. 75Se metabolic labeling and mutation analyses showed that the SECIS (Sec insertion sequence) of T. denticola selenoprotein Trx is functional in the E. coli Sec insertion system with specific selenium incorporation into the Sec residue. The selenoprotein Trx exhibited approximately 10-fold higher catalytic activity than the Sec-to-Cys version and natural Cys homologue and E. coli Trx1, suggesting that Sec confers higher catalytic activity on this thiol-disulfide reductase. Kinetic analysis also showed that the selenoprotein Trx had a 30-fold higher Km than Cys-containing homologues, suggesting that this selenoenzyme is adapted to work efficiently with high concentrations of substrate. Collectively, the results of this study support the hypothesis that selenium utilization in oxidoreductase systems is primarily due to the catalytic advantage provided by the rare amino acid, Sec.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-652
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun 12

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Bong-Kyu Choi (Seoul National University, Korea) for kindly providing T. denticola genomic DNA. This work was supported by the 2015 Yeungnam University Research Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Disulfide reductase
  • Selenoprotein
  • Thioredoxin
  • Treponema denticola

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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