Peptide methionine sulphoxide reductase (MsrA; EC is a ubiquitous enzyme catalysing the reduction of methionine sulphoxide to methionine in proteins, while the glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are a major family of detoxification enzymes. A gene homologous to MsrA was identified in a chromosomal fragment from the bacterium Ochrobactrum anthropi, and this gene is located just downstream of a GST gene identified previously (OaGST) [Favaloro, Tamburro, Angelucci, De Luca, Melino, Di Ilio and Rotilio (1998) Biochem. J. 335, 573–579]. This raises the question of whether the products of these two genes may be involved in a common cellular protection function. To test this hypothesis, the hypothetical MsrA protein has been overexpressed in Escherichia coli as a functional 51kDa GST fusion protein. Following cleavage with thrombin and purification, the soluble 24kDa protein showed MsrA activity with N-acetylmethionine sulphoxide as substrate, as well as with other sulphoxide compounds. Therefore polyclonal antibodies were raised against the recombinant protein, and the modulation of MsrA in this bacterium, grown in the presence of different stimulants simulating several stress conditions, was investigated. The level of expression of MsrA was detected both by measuring the mRNA level and by immunoblotting experiments, in addition to measuring its catalytic activity. MsrA is a constitutive enzyme which is also inducible by chemical stress involving phenolic compounds such as phenol and 4-chlorophenol. Recently we reported that the GST of this bacterium, like MsrA, is only modulated by toxic chemical compounds [Favaloro, Tamburro, Trofino, Bologna, Rotilio and Heipieper (2000) Biochem. J. 346, 553–559]; therefore this is the first indication of a co-induction of the MsrA and GST enzymes during chemical stress.

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