A glutathione reductase null mutant of Saccharomyces cerevisiae was isolated in a synthetic lethal genetic screen for mutations which confer a requirement for thioredoxin. Yeast mutants that lack glutathione reductase (glr1 delta) accumulate high levels of oxidized glutathione and have a twofold increase in total glutathione. The disulfide form of glutathione increases 200-fold and represents 63% of the total glutathione in a glr1 delta mutant compared with only 6% in wild type. High levels of oxidized glutathione are also observed in a trx1 delta, trx2 delta double mutant (22% of total), in a glr1 delta, trx1 delta double mutant (71% of total), and in a glr1 delta, trx2 delta double mutant (69% of total). Despite the exceptionally high ratio of oxidized/reduced glutathione, the glr1 delta mutant grows with a normal cell cycle. However, either one of the two thioredoxins is essential for growth. Cells lacking both thioredoxins and glutathione reductase are not viable under aerobic conditions and grow poorly anaerobically. In addition, the glr1 delta mutant shows increased sensitivity to the thiol oxidant diamide. The sensitivity to diamide was suppressed by deletion of the TRX2 gene. The genetic analysis of thioredoxin and glutathione reductase in yeast runs counter to previous studies in Escherichia coli and for the first time links thioredoxin with the redox state of glutathione in vivo.
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