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Where to Start? Alternate Protein Translation Mechanism Creates Unanticipated Antigens

Public Library of Science
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  • Chemistry


PLBI0211_1685-1722.indd PLoS Biology | 1685 Research Digest Synopses of Research Articles A New Way to Look at Oxidative Stress DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020374 Chemical reactions lie at the heart of many biological processes, from photosynthesis and respiration to cell signaling and drug metabolism. Thanks to an atmosphere rich in oxygen, many organisms use oxygen to carry out these life processes. But oxygen metabolism produces highly toxic by-products called reactive oxygen species. When oxidation outpaces detoxifying reactions, oxidative stress occurs, and accumulating reactive oxygen species are free to wreak havoc on cellular machinery. Cysteine, one of the 20 different amino acids that make up proteins, contains a thiol group, which can be modifi ed upon oxidation. A thiol group can stabilize protein structures by forming covalent disulfi de bonds and can mediate cysteine-regulated redox reactions. At the same time, however, the high reactivity of thiol groups makes them also particularly vulnerable to nonspecifi c reactions during conditions of oxidative stress. Over the past few years, an increasing number of proteins have been discovered that use oxidative thiol chemistry to regulate their protein activity. In PLoS Biology, Lars Leichert and Ursula Jakob describe a novel method to monitor thiol modifi cations in proteins subjected to varying redox conditions in a living organism, the bacteria Escherichia coli. This technique is capable of providing a global snapshot of the redox state of protein cysteines during normal and oxidative stress conditions in the cell. To detect proteins that have the ability to undergo stress-induced thiol modifi cations, Leichert and Jakob differentially labeled the thiol groups of thiol-modifi ed and non-thiol-modifi ed proteins. The proteins were then separated on two-dimensional gels based on their charge and molecular weight. If the technique worked, most thiol- modi

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