Cysteine-based redox switches in enzymes

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Mar 15;14(6):1065-77. doi: 10.1089/ars.2010.3376. Epub 2010 Sep 17.


The enzymes involved in metabolism and signaling are regulated by posttranslational modifications that influence their catalytic activity, rates of turnover, and targeting to subcellular locations. Most prominent among these has been phosphorylation/dephosphorylation, but now a distinct class of modification coming to the fore is a set of versatile redox modifications of key cysteine residues. Here we review the chemical, structural, and regulatory aspects of such redox regulation of enzymes and discuss examples of how these regulatory modifications often work in concert with phosphorylation/dephosphorylation events, making redox dependence an integral part of many cell signaling processes. Included are the emerging roles played by peroxiredoxins, a family of cysteine-based peroxidases that now appear to be major players in both antioxidant defense and cell signaling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cysteine / metabolism*
  • Enzymes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Peroxiredoxins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Signal Transduction


  • Enzymes
  • Peroxiredoxins
  • Cysteine