Signaling Functions of Reactive Oxygen Species

We review signaling by reactive oxygen species, which is emerging as a major physiological process

Henry Jay Forman; Matilde Maiorino; Fulvio Ursini

2010

Scholarcy highlights

  • We review signaling by reactive oxygen species, which is emerging as a major physiological process
  • In the 1970s, a few studies noted that exogenously added H2O2 could mimic growth factor activity and that the growth factors could stimulate in cells the endogenous production of H2O2
  • From a review of the chemistry and biochemistry of ROS, it has become clear that H2O2 is the only one that clearly has the characteristics of a second messenger
  • Superoxide is a major precursor of H2O2 rather than a direct participant in signaling, while hydroxyl radical lacks specificity
  • The specificity of H2O2 as a second messenger comes from its reactions with specific, “oxidation prone” protein Cys residues in local environments that lower the pKa
  • The reaction must be fast enough to compete with peroxide-removing enzymes and can occur only with assistance in breaking the O–O bond of H2O2, resulting in the formation of a cysteinesulfenic acid and water

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