The overoxidation of 2-Cys peroxiredoxins (Prxs) into a sulfinic form was thought to be an irreversible protein inactivation process until sulfiredoxins (Srxs) were discovered. These are enzymes occurring among eukaryotes, which are able to reduce sulfinylated Prxs. Although Prxs are present in the three domains of life, their reduction by Srxs has been described only in eukaryotes so far. Here it was established that the cyanobacterium Anabaena PCC 7120 has a Srx homologue (SrxA), which is able to specifically reduce the sulfinic form of the 2-Cys Prx (PrxA) both in vivo and in vitro. A mutant lacking the srxA gene was found to be more sensitive than the wild type to oxidative stress. Sulfiredoxin homologues are restricted to the cyanobacterial and eukaryotic genomes sequenced so far. The present phylogenetic analysis of Srx and 2-Cys Prx sequences showed a pattern of coevolution of the enzyme and its substrate that must have involved an ancient gene transfer between ancestors of Cyanobacteria and Eukaryotes, followed by a more recent transfer from Cyanobacteria to Plantae through the chloroplastic endosymbiosis. This is the first functional characterization of a Srx enzyme in a prokaryotic organism.
© 2011 CNRS. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.