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Glutathione analogs in prokaryotes.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23075826     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
BACKGROUND: Oxygen is both essential and toxic to all forms of aerobic life and the chemical versatility and reactivity of thiols plays a key role in both aspects. Cysteine thiol groups have key catalytic functions in enzymes but are readily damaged by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Low-molecular-weight thiols provide protective buffers against the hazards of ROS toxicity. Glutathione is the small protective thiol in nearly all eukaryotes but in prokaryotes the situation is far more complex. SCOPE OF REVIEW: This review provides an introduction to the diversity of low-molecular-weight thiol protective systems in bacteria. The topics covered include the limitations of cysteine as a protector, the multiple origins and distribution of glutathione biosynthesis, mycothiol biosynthesis and function in Actinobacteria, recent discoveries involving bacillithiol found in Firmicutes, new insights on the biosynthesis and distribution of ergothioneine, and the potential protective roles played by coenzyme A and other thiols. MAJOR CONCLUSIONS: Bacteria have evolved a diverse collection of low-molecular-weight protective thiols to deal with oxygen toxicity and environmental challenges. Our understanding of how many of these thiols are produced and utilized is still at an early stage. GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE: Extensive diversity existed among prokaryotes prior to evolution of the cyanobacteria and the development of an oxidizing atmosphere. Bacteria that managed to adapt to life under oxygen evolved, or acquired, the ability to produce a variety of small thiols for protection against the hazards of aerobic metabolism. Many pathogenic prokaryotes depend upon novel thiol protection systems that may provide targets for new antibacterial agents. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Cellular functions of glutathione.
Robert C Fahey
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2012-10-14
Journal Detail:
Title:  Biochimica et biophysica acta     Volume:  -     ISSN:  0006-3002     ISO Abbreviation:  Biochim. Biophys. Acta     Publication Date:  2012 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-10-18     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0217513     Medline TA:  Biochim Biophys Acta     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093. Electronic address:
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