Structure and Function of DsbA, a Key Bacterial Oxidative Folding Catalyst Academic Article uri icon


  • Since its discovery in 1991, the bacterial periplasmic oxidative folding catalyst DsbA has been the focus of intense research. Early studies addressed why it is so oxidizing and how it is maintained in its less stable oxidized state. The crystal structure of Escherichia coli DsbA (EcDsbA) revealed that the oxidizing periplasmic enzyme is a distant evolutionary cousin of the reducing cytoplasmic enzyme thioredoxin. Recent significant developments have deepened our understanding of DsbA function, mechanism, and interactions: the structure of the partner membrane protein EcDsbB, including its complex with EcDsbA, proved a landmark in the field. Studies of DsbA machineries from bacteria other than E. coli K-12 have highlighted dramatic differences from the model organism, including a striking divergence in redox parameters and surface features. Several DsbA structures have provided the first clues to its interaction with substrates, and finally, evidence for a central role of DsbA in bacterial virulence has been demonstrated in a range of organisms. Here, we review current knowledge on DsbA, a bacterial periplasmic protein that introduces disulfide bonds into diverse substrate proteins and which may one day be the target of a new class of anti-virulence drugs to treat bacterial infection.


  • Shouldice, Stephen R
  • Heras, Begoña
  • Walden, Patricia M
  • Totsika, Makrina
  • Schembri, Mark A
  • Martin, Jennifer L

publication date

  • May 2011