Intramembrane Thiol Oxidoreductases: Evolutionary Convergence and Structural Controversy

Shuang Li, Guomin Shen, Weikai Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


During oxidative protein folding, disulfide bond formation is catalyzed by thiol oxidoreductases. Through dedicated relay pathways, the disulfide is generated in donor enzymes, passed to carrier enzymes, and subsequently delivered to target proteins. The eukaryotic disulfide donors are flavoenzymes, Ero1 in the endoplasmic reticulum and Erv1 in mitochondria. In prokaryotes, disulfide generation is coupled to quinone reduction, catalyzed by intramembrane donor enzymes, DsbB and VKOR. To catalyze de novo disulfide formation, these different disulfide donors show striking structural convergence at several levels. They share a four-helix bundle core structure at their active site, which contains a CXXC motif at a helical end. They have also evolved a flexible loop with shuttle cysteines to transfer electrons to the active site and relay the disulfide bond to the carrier enzymes. Studies of the prokaryotic VKOR, however, have stirred debate about whether the human homologue adopts the same topology with four transmembrane helices and uses the same electron-transfer mechanism. The controversies have recently been resolved by investigating the human VKOR structure and catalytic process in living cells with a mass spectrometry-based approach. Structural convergence between human VKOR and the disulfide donors is found to underlie cofactor reduction, disulfide generation, and electron transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-266
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 23 2018


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