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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2010 Jan;12(1):53-91. doi: 10.1089/ARS.2009.2510.

Disulfides as redox switches: from molecular mechanisms to functional significance.

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  • 1Structural & Computational Biology Division, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia.

Erratum in

  • Antioxid Redox Signal. 2010 Feb;12(2):321. Cortese-Krott,Miriam [removed]; Hanas,Jay [removed]; Kroencke Klaus [removed], Larabee, Jason [removed]; Lu,Hui [removed]; Outten, F. Wayne [removed]; Palumaa, Peep [removed].


The molecular mechanisms underlying thiol-based redox control are poorly defined. Disulfide bonds between Cys residues are commonly thought to confer extra rigidity and stability to their resident protein, forming a type of proteinaceous spot weld. Redox biologists have been redefining the role of disulfides over the last 30-40 years. Disulfides are now known to form in the cytosol under conditions of oxidative stress. Isomerization of extracellular disulfides is also emerging as an important regulator of protein function. The current paradigm is that the disulfide proteome consists of two subproteomes: a structural group and a redox-sensitive group. The redox-sensitive group is less stable and often associated with regions of stress in protein structures. Some characterized redox-active disulfides are the helical CXXC motif, often associated with thioredoxin-fold proteins; and forbidden disulfides, a group of metastable disulfides that disobey elucidated rules of protein stereochemistry. Here we discuss the role of redox-active disulfides as switches in proteins.

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