Translational elongation is susceptible to inactivation by reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, and elongation factor G has been identified as a target of oxidation by ROS. In the present study we examined the sensitivity to oxidation by ROS of another elongation factor, EF-Tu. The structure of EF-Tu changes dramatically depending on the bound nucleotide. Therefore, we investigated the sensitivity to oxidation in vitro of GTP- and GDP-bound EF-Tu as well as that of nucleotide-free EF-Tu. Assays of translational activity with a reconstituted translation system from Escherichia coli revealed that GTP-bound and nucleotide-free EF-Tu were sensitive to oxidation by H2O2, whereas GDP-bound EF-Tu was resistant to H2O2. The inactivation of EF-Tu was the result of oxidation of Cys-82, a single cysteine residue, and subsequent formation of both an intermolecular disulfide bond and sulfenic acid. Replacement of Cys-82 with serine rendered EF-Tu resistant to inactivation by H2O2, confirming that Cys-82 was a target of oxidation. Furthermore, oxidized EF-Tu was reduced and reactivated by thioredoxin. Gel-filtration chromatography revealed that some of the oxidized nucleotide-free EF-Tu formed large complexes of >30 molecules. Atomic force microscopy revealed that such large complexes dissociated into several smaller aggregates upon the addition of dithiothreitol. Immunological analysis of the redox state of EF-Tu in vivo showed that levels of oxidized EF-Tu increased under strong light. Thus, resembling elongation factor G, EF-Tu appears to be sensitive to ROS via oxidation of a cysteine residue, and its inactivation might be reversed in a redox-dependent manner.
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