Evolutionary Acquisition of Cysteines determines FOXO Paralog-Specific Redox Signaling

Marrit Putker, Harmjan Vos, Kim van Dorenmalen, Hesther de Ruiter, Ana G Duran, Berend Snel, Boudewijn Marius Burgering, Michiel Vermeulen, T B Dansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Reduction-oxidation (redox) signaling, the translation of an oxidative intracellular environment into a cellular response, is mediated by the reversible oxidation of specific cysteine thiols. The latter can result in disulfide formation between protein hetero- or homodimers that alter protein function until the local cellular redox environment has returned to the basal state. We have previously shown that this mechanism promotes the nuclear localization and activity of the Forkhead Box O4 (FOXO4) transcription factor. Aims: in this study we sought to investigate whether redox signaling differentially controls the human FOXO3 and FOXO4 paralogs. Results: We present evidence that FOXO3 and FOXO4 have acquired paralog-specific cysteines throughout vertebrate evolution. Using a proteome-wide screen we identified previously unknown redox-dependent FOXO3 interaction partners. The nuclear import receptors Importin-7 (IPO7) and Importin-8 (IPO8) form a disulfide-dependent heterodimer with FOXO3, which is required for its reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced nuclear translocation. FOXO4 does not interact with IPO7 or IPO8. Innovation and Conclusion: IPO7 and IPO8 control the nuclear import of FOXO3, but not FOXO4, in a redox-sensitive and disulfide-dependent manner. Our findings suggest that evolutionary acquisition of cysteines has contributed to regulatory divergence of FOXO paralogs, and that phylogenetic analysis can aid in the identification of cysteines involved in redox signaling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
JournalAntioxidants & redox signaling
Issue number1
Early online date4 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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