Thioredoxins and glutaredoxins as facilitators of protein folding

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Apr;1783(4):641-50. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2008.02.003. Epub 2008 Feb 19.


Thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase systems of bacterial cytoplasm and eukaryotic cytosol favor reducing conditions and protein thiol groups, while bacterial periplasm and eukaryotic endoplasmatic reticulum provide oxidizing conditions and a machinery for disulfide bond formation in the secretory pathway. Oxidoreductases of the thioredoxin fold superfamily catalyze steps in oxidative protein folding via protein-protein interactions and covalent catalysis to act as chaperones and isomerases of disulfides to generate a native fold. The active site dithiol/disulfide of thioredoxin fold proteins is CXXC where variations of the residues inside the disulfide ring are known to increase the redox potential like in protein disulfide isomerases. In the catalytic mechanism thioredoxin fold proteins bind to target proteins through conserved backbone-backbone hydrogen bonds and induce conformational changes of the target disulfide followed by nucleophilic attack by the N-terminally located low pK(a) Cys residue. This generates a mixed disulfide covalent bond which subsequently is resolved by attack from the C-terminally located Cys residue. This review will focus on two members of the thioredoxin superfamily of proteins known to be crucial for maintaining a reduced intracellular redox state, thioredoxin and glutaredoxin, and their potential functions as facilitators and regulators of protein folding and chaperone activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glutaredoxins / physiology*
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Folding*
  • Thioredoxins / physiology*


  • Glutaredoxins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Thioredoxins