Whereas vertebrates possess only two thioredoxin genes, higher plants present a much greater diversity of thioredoxins. For example, Arabidopsis thaliana has five cytoplasmic thioredoxins (type h) and at least as many chloroplastic thioredoxins. The abundance of plant thioredoxins leads to the question whether the various plant thioredoxins play a similar role or have specific functions. Because most of these proteins display very similar activities on artificial or biological substrates in vitro, we developed an in vivo approach to answer this question. The disruption of both of the two Saccharomyces cerevisiae thioredoxin genes leads to pleiotropic effects including methionine auxotrophy, H2O2 hypersensitivity, altered cell cycle characteristics, and a limited ability to use methionine sulfoxide as source of methionine. We expressed eight plant thioredoxins (six cytoplasmic and two chloroplastic) in yeast trx1, trx2 double mutant cells and analyzed the different phenotypes. Arabidopsis type h thioredoxin 2 efficiently restored sulfate assimilation whereas Arabidopsis type h thioredoxin 3 conferred H2O2 tolerance. All thioredoxins tested could complement for reduction of methionine sulfoxide, whereas only type h thioredoxins were able to complement the cell cycle defect. These findings clearly indicate that specific interactions between plant thioredoxins and their targets occur in vivo.
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