Archives of Pharmacal Research

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 583–593 | Cite as

Regulatory mechanisms of thiol-based redox sensors: lessons learned from structural studies on prokaryotic redox sensors

  • Sang Jae Lee
  • Dong-Gyun Kim
  • Kyu-Yeon Lee
  • Ji Sung Koo
  • Bong-Jin LeeEmail author


Oxidative stresses, such as reactive oxygen species, reactive electrophilic species, reactive nitrogen species, and reactive chlorine species, can damage cellular components, leading to cellular malfunction and death. In response to oxidative stress, bacteria have evolved redox-responsive sensors that enable them to simultaneously monitor and eradicate potential oxidative stress. Specifically, redox-sensing transcription regulators react to oxidative stress by means of modifying the thiol groups of cysteine residues, functioning as part of an efficient survival mechanism for many bacteria. In general, oxidative molecules can induce changes in the three-dimensional structures of redox sensors, which, in turn, affects the transcription of specific genes in detoxification pathways and defense mechanisms. Moreover, pathogenic bacteria utilize these redox sensors for adaptation and to evade subsequent oxidative attacks from host immune defense. For this reason, the redox sensors of pathogenic bacteria are potential antibiotic targets. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms of thiol-based redox sensors in bacteria will provide insight and knowledge into the discovery of new antibiotics.


Redox sensor Redox signaling Transcription factor Bacteria Protein structure 



This work was funded by the Korea Ministry of Science, Information, Communication, Technology, and Future Planning and National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea (Grants NRF-2014K1A3A1A19067618 and NRF-2015R1A2A1A05001894 awarded to B.-J.L. and NRF-2016R1C1B2014609 awarded to S.J.L.). This work was also supported by the 2016 BK21 Plus Project for Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmacy.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© The Pharmaceutical Society of Korea 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sang Jae Lee
    • 1
  • Dong-Gyun Kim
    • 1
  • Kyu-Yeon Lee
    • 1
  • Ji Sung Koo
    • 1
  • Bong-Jin Lee
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.The Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of PharmacySeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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