, 19:261 | Cite as

Dps proteins, an efficient detoxification and DNA protection machinery in the bacterial response to oxidative stress

  • Emilia ChianconeEmail author


The proteins belonging to the Dps (DNA-binding proteins from starved cells) family play an important role within the bacterial defence system against oxidative stress. They act on Fe(II) and hydrogen peroxide that are potentially toxic in the presence of air. Fe(II) forms spontaneously insoluble Fe(III) and reacts with molecular oxygen or its reduced forms to yield the highly damaging hydroxyl radicals. All Dps proteins have the distinctive capacity to annul the toxic combination of iron and hydrogen peroxide as they use the latter compound to oxidise Fe(II). In addition to this intrinsic DNA protection capacity, several members of the family, including the archetypical Escherichia coli Dps, protect DNA physically by shielding it in large Dps-DNA complexes. The structural and functional characteristics that endow Dps proteins with the chemical and physical protection mechanism are presented and discussed also in the framework of the varied situations that may be encountered in different bacterial species.


Dps proteins DNA-binding proteins from starred cells DNA protection 

Subject codes

L14005 L23004 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNR Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology, Department of Biochemical Sciences “Alessandro Rossi-Fanelli”Sapienza University of RomeRomeItaly

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