Redox biology: computational approaches to the investigation of functional cysteine residues

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Jul 1;15(1):135-46. doi: 10.1089/ars.2010.3561. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Cysteine (Cys) residues serve many functions, such as catalysis, stabilization of protein structure through disulfides, metal binding, and regulation of protein function. Cys residues are also subject to numerous post-translational modifications. In recent years, various computational tools aiming at classifying and predicting different functional categories of Cys have been developed, particularly for structural and catalytic Cys. On the other hand, given complexity of the subject, bioinformatics approaches have been less successful for the investigation of regulatory Cys sites. In this review, we introduce different functional categories of Cys residues. For each category, an overview of state-of-the-art bioinformatics methods and tools is provided, along with examples of successful applications and potential limitations associated with each approach. Finally, we discuss Cys-based redox switches, which modify the view of distinct functional categories of Cys in proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Cysteine / chemistry
  • Cysteine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Cysteine