Peroxiredoxins (Prxs) constitute a family of thiol-specific peroxidases that utilize cysteine (Cys) as the primary site of oxidation during the reduction of peroxides. To gain more insight into the physiological role of the five Prxs in budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we performed a comparative study and found that Tsa1 was distinguished from the other Prxs in that by itself it played a key role in maintaining genome stability and in sustaining aerobic viability of rad51 mutants that are deficient in recombinational repair. Tsa2 and Dot5 played minor but distinct roles in suppressing the accumulation of mutations in cooperation with Tsa1. Tsa2 was capable of largely complementing the absence of Tsa1 when expressed under the control of the Tsa1 promoter. The presence of peroxidatic cysteine (Cys47) was essential for Tsa1 activity, while Tsa1C170S lacking the resolving Cys was partially functional. In the absence of Tsa1 activity (tsa1 or tsa1CCS lacking the peroxidatic and resolving Cys) and recombinational repair (rad51), dying cells displayed irregular cell size/shape, abnormal cell cycle progression, and significant increase of phosphatidylserine externalization, an early marker of apoptosis-like cell death. The tsa1CCS rad51– or tsa1 rad51–induced cell death did not depend on the caspase Yca1 and Ste20 kinase, while the absence of the checkpoint protein Rad9 accelerated the cell death processes. These results indicate that the peroxiredoxin Tsa1, in cooperation with appropriate DNA repair and checkpoint mechanisms, acts to protect S. cerevisiae cells against toxic levels of DNA damage that occur during aerobic growth.
Aerobically growing cells are continuously challenged by potent oxidants produced during normal cellular metabolism. These oxidants, including hydrogen peroxide and organic peroxides, are important components mediating various cell functions. However, they can also cause cell damage when present at toxic levels. Aerobic organisms possess extensive antioxidant systems to regulate oxidant levels. Among these, peroxiredoxins have received considerable attention in recent years as an expanding protein family involved in the enzymatic degradation of hydrogen peroxide and organic peroxides. To better understand the physiological role of the five peroxiredoxins in budding yeast S. cerevisiae, we performed a comparative study and found that one, Tsa1, played a key role in preventing DNA damage and assuring genome stability. Tsa1 also cooperated with other peroxiredoxins in antioxidant defense. These functions of Tsa1 required the presence of a cysteine at the catalytic site of this enzyme. Additional studies revealed that Tsa1 activity, in cooperation with appropriate DNA repair and checkpoint mechanisms, acts to protect cells against toxic levels of DNA damage that occur during aerobic growth.