The oxidative environment and protein damage

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Proteins are a major target for oxidants as a result of their abundance in biological systems, and their high rate constants for reaction. Kinetic data for a number of radicals and non-radical oxidants (e.g. singlet oxygen and hypochlorous acid) are consistent with proteins consuming the majority of these species generated within cells. Oxidation can occur at both the protein backbone and on the amino acid side-chains, with the ratio of attack dependent on a number of factors. With some oxidants, damage is limited and specific to certain residues, whereas other species, such as the hydroxyl radical, give rise to widespread, relatively non-specific damage. Some of the major oxidation pathways, and products formed, are reviewed. The latter include reactive species, such as peroxides, which can induce further oxidation and chain reactions (within proteins, and via damage transfer to other molecules) and stable products. Particular emphasis is given to the oxidation of methionine residues, as this species is readily oxidised by a wide range of oxidants. Some side-chain oxidation products, including methionine sulfoxide, can be employed as sensitive, specific, markers of oxidative damage. The product profile can, in some cases, provide valuable information on the species involved; selected examples of this approach are discussed. Most protein damage is non-repairable, and has deleterious consequences on protein structure and function; methionine sulfoxide formation can however be reversed in some circumstances. The major fate of oxidised proteins is catabolism by proteosomal and lysosomal pathways, but some materials appear to be poorly degraded and accumulate within cells. The accumulation of such damaged material may contribute to a range of human pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalB B A - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)93-109
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Oxidation-Reduction, Proteins

ID: 129672086