Some of the most challenging stress conditions that organisms encounter during their lifetime involve the transient accumulation of reactive oxygen and chlorine species. Extremely reactive to amino acid side chains, these oxidants cause widespread protein unfolding and aggregation. It is therefore not surprising that cells draw on a variety of different strategies to counteract the damage and maintain a healthy proteome. Orchestrated largely by direct changes in the thiol oxidation status of key proteins, the response strategies involve all layers of protein protection. Reprogramming of basic biological functions helps decrease nascent protein synthesis and restore redox homeostasis. Mobilization of oxidative stress-activated chaperones and production of stress-resistant non-proteinaceous chaperones prevent irreversible protein aggregation. Finally, redox-controlled increase in proteasome activity removes any irreversibly damaged proteins. Together, these systems pave the way to restore protein homeostasis and enable organisms to survive stress conditions that are inevitable when living an aerobic lifestyle.
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