Intracellular metal binding and redox behavior of human DJ-1

  • Letizia Barbieri
  • Enrico Luchinat
  • Lucia Banci
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special issue to celebrate the 80th birthday of Helmut Sigel


DJ-1 is a conserved, ubiquitous protein associated to a large number of intracellular processes. Human DJ-1 has been linked to several pathologies, including hereditary forms of Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Several cytoprotective functions of DJ-1 have been reported, however, its actual mechanisms of action remain elusive. In vitro, DJ-1 has been shown to bind zinc and copper(II) at its active site, which contains a conserved cysteine (C106), and copper(I) at a different binding site. C106 is essential to DJ-1 function, and is easily oxidized upon oxidative stress. Here, we investigated the metal-binding- and redox properties of DJ-1 in living human cells by in-cell NMR. Intracellular DJ-1 is surprisingly free from interactions with any other cellular components and as such is clearly detectable by NMR. Metal-bound forms of DJ-1 were not observed upon treating the cells with excess zinc or copper. No copper binding was observed when co-expressing DJ-1 with the copper chaperone for superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1). Co-expression of DJ-1 with SOD1 itself did not promote copper binding to SOD1, excluding a previously suggested function of DJ-1 as a copper chaperone. Overall, our data do not support the role of DJ-1 as a metalloprotein. Conversely, oxidative treatment to the cells caused the complete and selective oxidation of C106 to sulfinic acid, consistent with the reported role of DJ-1 as a redox sensor.


In-cell NMR DJ-1 Deglycase Metalloprotein Cysteine sulfinic acid 



This work was funded by Instruct, part of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and supported by national member subscriptions. Specifically, we thank the ESFRI Instruct Core Centre CERM-Italy. This work has also been supported by iNEXT, Grant number 653706, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union.


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Copyright information

© SBIC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Letizia Barbieri
    • 1
    • 2
  • Enrico Luchinat
    • 1
    • 3
  • Lucia Banci
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Magnetic Resonance Centre (CERM)University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Interuniversity Consortium for Magnetic Resonance of Metallo Proteins (CIRMMP)FlorenceItaly
  3. 3.Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences “Mario Serio”University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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