Thioredoxin-mimetic peptides (TXM) reverse auranofin induced apoptosis and restore insulin secretion in insulinoma cells

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The thioredoxin reductase/thioredoxin system (TrxR/Trx1) plays a major role in protecting cells from oxidative stress. Disruption of the TrxR-Trx1 system keeps Trx1 in the oxidized state leading to cell death through activation of the ASK1-Trx1 apoptotic pathway. The potential mechanism and ability of tri- and tetra-oligopeptides derived from the canonical -CxxC- motif of the Trx1-active site to mimic and enhance Trx1 cellular activity was examined. The Trx mimetics peptides (TXM) protected insulinoma INS 832/13 cells from oxidative stress induced by selectively inhibiting TrxR with auranofin (AuF). TXM reversed the AuF-effects preventing apoptosis, and increasing cell-viability. The TXM peptides were effective in inhibiting AuF-induced MAPK, JNK and p38MAPK phosphorylation, in correlation with preventing caspase-3 cleavage and thereby PARP-1 dissociation. The ability to form a disulfide-bridge-like conformation was estimated from molecular dynamics simulations. The TXM peptides restored insulin secretion and displayed Trx1 denitrosylase activity. Their potency was 10–100-fold higher than redox reagents like NAC, AD4, or ascorbic acid. Unable to reverse ERK1/2 phosphorylation, TXM-CB3 (NAc-Cys-Pro-Cys amide) appeared to function in part, through inhibiting ASK1-Trx dissociation. These highly effective anti-apoptotic effects of Trx1 mimetic peptides exhibited in INS 832/13 cells could become valuable in treating adverse oxidative-stress related disorders such as diabetes.

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