Thioredoxin-1 actively maintains the pseudokinase MLKL in a reduced state to suppress disulfide bond-dependent MLKL polymer formation and necroptosis

Eduardo Reynoso, Hua Liu, Lin Li, Anthony L. Yuan, She Chen, Zhigao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Necroptosis is an immunogenic cell death program that is associated with a host of human diseases, including inflammation, infections, and cancer. Receptor-interacting protein kinase 3 (RIPK3) and its substrate mixed lineage kinase domainlike protein (MLKL) are required for necroptosis activation. Specifically, RIPK3-dependent MLKL phosphorylation promotes the assembly of disulfide bond-dependent MLKL polymers that drive the execution of necroptosis. However, how MLKL disulfide bond formation is regulated is not clear. In this study we discovered that the MLKL-modifying compound necrosulfonamide cross-links cysteine 86 of human MLKL to cysteine 32 of the thiol oxidoreductase thioredoxin-1 (Trx1). Recombinant Trx1 preferentially binds to monomeric MLKL and blocks MLKL disulfide bond formation and polymerization in vitro. Inhibition of MLKL polymer formation requires the reducing activity of Trx1. Importantly, shRNA-mediated knockdown of Trx1 promotes MLKL polymerization and sensitizes cells to necroptosis. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of Trx1 with compound PX-12 induces necroptosis in multiple cancer cell lines. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that Trx1 is a critical regulator of necroptosis that suppresses cell death by maintaining MLKL in a reduced inactive state. Our results further suggest new directions for targeted cancer therapy in which thioredoxin inhibitors like PX-12 could potentially be used to specifically target cancers expressing high levels of MLKL or MLKL short isoforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17514-17524
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 20 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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