Role of redox potential and reactive oxygen species in stress signaling

Oncogene. 1999 Nov 1;18(45):6104-11. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1203128.


Stress-activated signaling cascades are affected by altered redox potential. Key contributors to altered redox potential are reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are formed, in most cases, by exogenous genotoxic agents including irradiation, inflammatory cytokines and chemical carcinogens. ROS and altered redox potential can be considered as the primary intracellular changes which regulate protein kinases, thereby serving as an important cellular component linking external stimuli with signal transduction in stress response. The mechanisms, which underlie the ROS-mediated response, involve direct alteration of kinases and transcription factors, and indirect modulation of cysteine-rich redox-sensitive proteins exemplified by thioredoxin and glutathione S-transferase. This review summarizes the current understanding of the mechanisms contributing to ROS-related changes in key stress activated signaling cascades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Thioredoxins / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Transcription Factors
  • Thioredoxins
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Protein Kinases