Properties and biological activities of thioredoxins

Annu Rev Biophys Biomol Struct. 2001;30:421-55. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biophys.30.1.421.


The mammalian thioredoxins are a family of small (approximately 12 kDa) redox proteins that undergo NADPH-dependent reduction by thioredoxin reductase and in turn reduce oxidized cysteine groups on proteins. The two main thioredoxins are thioredoxin- 1, a cytosolic and nuclear form, and thioredoxin-2, a mitochondrial form. Thioredoxin-1 has been studied more. It performs many biological actions including the supply of reducing equivalents to thioredoxin peroxidases and ribonucleotide reductase, the regulation of transcription factor activity, and the regulation of enzyme activity by heterodimer formation. Thioredoxin-1 stimulates cell growth and is an inhibitor of apoptosis. Thioredoxins may play a role in a variety of human diseases including cancer. An increased level of thioredoxin-1 is found in many human tumors, where it is associated with aggressive tumor growth. Drugs are being developed that inhibit thioredoxin and that have antitumor activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis
  • Humans
  • Models, Chemical
  • Models, Molecular
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase / chemistry
  • Thioredoxins / chemistry*
  • Thioredoxins / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Thioredoxins
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase