Escherichia coli GlpE is a prototype sulfurtransferase for the single-domain rhodanese homology superfamily

A. Spallarossa, J. L. Donahue, T. J. Larson, M. Bolognesi, D. Bordo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Rhodanese domains are structural modules occurring in the three major evolutionary phyla. They are found as single-domain proteins, as tandemly repeated modules in which the C-terminal domain only bears the properly structured active site, or as members of multidomain proteins. Although in vitro assays show sulfurtransferase or phosphatase activity associated with rhodanese or rhodanese-like domains, specific biological roles for most members of this homology superfamily have not been established. Results: Eight ORFs coding for proteins consisting of (or containing) a rhodanese domain bearing the potentially catalytic Cys have been identified in the Escherichia coli K-12 genome. One of these codes for the 12-kDa protein GlpE, a member of the sn-glycerol 3-phosphate (glp) regulon. The crystal structure of GlpE, reported here at 1.06 Å resolution, displays α/β topology based on five β strands and five α helices. The GlpE catalytic Cys residue is persulfurated and enclosed in a structurally conserved 5-residue loop in a region of positive electrostatic field. Conclusions: Relative to the two-domain rhodanese enzymes of known three-dimensional structure, GlpE displays substantial shortening of loops connecting α helices and β sheets, resulting in radical conformational changes surrounding the active site. As a consequence, GlpE is structurally more similar to Cdc25 phosphatases than to bovine or Azotobacter vinelandii rhodaneses. Sequence searches through completed genomes indicate that GlpE can be considered to be the prototype structure for the ubiquitous single-domain rhodanese module.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1125
Number of pages9
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Cdc25
  • Phosphatase
  • Rhodanese
  • Sulfurtransferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology


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