Lee S, Kim SM, Lee RT. 2013. Thioredoxin and thioredoxin target proteins: from molecular mechanisms to functional significance. Antioxidants & redox signaling. 18(10):1165-207. Pubmed: 22607099 DOI:10.1089/ars.2011.4322


The thioredoxin (Trx) system is one of the central antioxidant systems in mammalian cells, maintaining a reducing environment by catalyzing electron flux from nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate through Trx reductase to Trx, which reduces its target proteins using highly conserved thiol groups. While the importance of protecting cells from the detrimental effects of reactive oxygen species is clear, decades of research in this field revealed that there is a network of redox-sensitive proteins forming redox-dependent signaling pathways that are crucial for fundamental cellular processes, including metabolism, proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. Trx participates in signaling pathways interacting with different proteins to control their dynamic regulation of structure and function. In this review, we focus on Trx target proteins that are involved in redox-dependent signaling pathways. Specifically, Trx-dependent reductive enzymes that participate in classical redox reactions and redox-sensitive signaling molecules are discussed in greater detail. The latter are extensively discussed, as ongoing research unveils more and more details about the complex signaling networks of Trx-sensitive signaling molecules such as apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1, Trx interacting protein, and phosphatase and tensin homolog, thus highlighting the potential direct and indirect impact of their redox-dependent interaction with Trx. Overall, the findings that are described here illustrate the importance and complexity of Trx-dependent, redox-sensitive signaling in the cell. Our increasing understanding of the components and mechanisms of these signaling pathways could lead to the identification of new potential targets for the treatment of diseases, including cancer and diabetes.

Related Faculty

Photo of Rich Lee

Rich Lee seeks to understand heart failure and metabolic diseases that accompany human aging, and translate that understanding into therapies. Lee is an active clinician, regularly treating patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Search Menu