Thioredoxin (Trx) is a redox protein characterized by a Trx fold. A naturally occurring truncated human Trx, Trx 80, which lacks the C-terminal strand-helix of the Trx fold, stimulates proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). It has not been clear how Trx80 gains this function. This study investigates whether a peptide with substantial sequence difference from Trx80, but retaining an abridged Trx fold can elicit PBMC proliferation. We genetically truncated a carboxy-terminal β-α motif of Escherichia coli Trx to produce a peptide, Trx83, which shares low sequence identity with human Trx80. Addition of reduced-form Trx83 to resting human PBMCs promoted cell proliferation, while oxidized-form Trx83 lacked the function. By contrast, oxidized-form Trx80 exhibited a high activity in promoting PBMC proliferation, indicating the importance of sequence context of an abridged thioredoxin in influencing PBMC proliferation. Trx83 increases cellular reactive oxygen species and proinflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β, suggesting that Trx83 modulates inflammatory pathways. This notion is supported by the observation that cystine or cysteine abolishes the Trx83 induced PBMC proliferation. The PBMC stimulatory activity of Trx83 may have potential for pharmacological developments. Significance of the Study: Elicitation of primary proliferative responses of PBMCs by a protein is generally difficult. We show that Escherichia coli Trx83 with a truncated Trx fold induces PBMC proliferation, but only in the disulfide-reduced form. In contrast, oxidized-form human Trx80 is a potent stimulator. These results demonstrate that the sequence context of an abridged Trx fold is influential in inducing PBMC proliferation. The stimulatory effect of Trx83 is associated with an increase of inflammatory response. The possibility of eliciting PBMC proliferation and switching this activity on/off by redox control provides a perspective for developing Trx83 as a PBMC stimulatory agent.
- cell proliferation
- peripheral blood mononuclear cells
- proinflammatory cytokines
- reactive oxygen species
- truncated E. coli thioredoxin