Thioredoxins (Trxs) are ubiquitous proteins that play vital roles in several physiological processes. Alr2205, a thioredoxin-like protein from Anabaena PCC 7120, was found to be evolutionarily closer to the Trx-domain of the NADPH-Thioredoxin Reductase C than the other thioredoxins. The Alr2205 protein showed disulfide reductase activity despite the presence a non-canonical active site motif ‘CPSC’. Alr2205 not only physically interacted with, but also acted as a physiological reductant of Alr4641 (the typical 2-Cys-Peroxiredoxin from Anabaena), supporting its peroxidase function. Structurally, Alr2205 was a monomeric protein that formed an intramolecular disulfide bond between the two active site cysteines (Cys-38 and Cys-41). However, the Alr2205C41S protein, wherein the resolving cysteine was mutated to serine, was capable of forming intermolecular disulfide bond and exist as a dimer when treated with H2O2. Overproduction of Alr2205 in E. coli protected cells from heavy metals, but not oxidative stress. To delve into its physiological role, Alr2205/Alr2205C41S was overexpressed in Anabaena, and the ability of the corresponding strains (An2205+ or An2205C41S+) to withstand environmental stresses was assessed. An2205+ showed higher resistance to H2O2 than An2205C41S+, indicating that the disulfide reductase function of this protein was critical to protect cells from this peroxide. Although, An2205+ did not show increased capability to withstand cadmium stress, An2205C41S+ was more susceptible to this heavy metal. This is the first study that provides a vital understanding into the function of atypical thioredoxins in countering the toxic effects of heavy metals/H2O2 in prokaryotes.

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