Peroxiredoxin 2 (Prx2) is an antioxidant enzyme that uses cysteine residues to decompose peroxides. Prx2 is the third most abundant protein in erythrocytes, and competes effectively with catalase and glutathione peroxidase to scavenge low levels of hydrogen peroxide, including that derived from hemoglobin autoxidation. Low thioredoxin reductase activity in the erythrocyte is able to keep up with this basal oxidation and maintain the Prx2 in its reduced form, but exposure to exogenous hydrogen peroxide causes accumulation of the disulfide-linked dimer. The high cellular concentration means that although turnover is slow, erythrocyte Prx2 can act as a noncatalytic scavenger of hydrogen peroxide and a sink for hydrogen peroxide before turnover becomes limiting. The consequences of Prx2 oxidation for the erythrocyte are not well characterized, but mice deficient in this protein develop severe hemolytic anemia associated with Heinz body formation. Prx2, also known as calpromotin, regulates ion transport by associating with the membrane and activating the Gárdos channel. How Prx2 redox transformations are linked to membrane association and channel activation is yet to be established. In this review, we discuss the functional properties of Prx2 and its role as a major component of the erythrocyte antioxidant system.
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