As a more selectively reactive oxygen species, H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) has been co-opted as a signalling molecule, but high levels can still lead to lethal amounts of cell damage. 2-Cys Prxs (peroxiredoxins) are ubiquitous thioredoxin peroxidases which utilize reversibly oxidized catalytic cysteine residues to reduce peroxides. As such, Prxs potentially make an important contribution to the repertoire of cell defences against oxidative damage. Although the abundance of eukaryotic 2-Cys Prxs suggests an important role in maintaining cell redox, the surprising sensitivity of their thioredoxin peroxidase activity to inactivation by H2O2 has raised questions as to their role as an oxidative stress defence. Indeed, work in model yeast has led the way in revealing that Prxs do much more than simply remove peroxides and have even uncovered circumstances where their thioredoxin peroxidase activity is detrimental. In the present paper, we focus on what we have learned from studies in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe about the different roles of 2-Cys Prxs in responses to H2O2 and discuss the general implications of these findings for other systems.

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