DJ-1 is a member of the large and functionally diverse DJ-1/PfpI superfamily and has homologs in nearly all organisms. Because of its connection to parkinsonism and cancer, human DJ-1 has been intensely studied for over a decade. The current view is that DJ-1 is a multifunctional oxidative stress response protein that defends cells against reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial damage, although the details of its biochemical function remain unclear. A conserved cysteine residue in DJ-1 (Cys106) is both functionally essential and subject to oxidation to the cysteine-sulfinate and cysteine-sulfonate. Consequently, the oxidative modification of Cys106 has been proposed to allow DJ-1 to act as a sensor of cellular redox homeostasis and to participate in cytoprotective signaling pathways in the cell. This review explores the current evidence for the role of cysteine oxidation in DJ-1 function, with emphasis on emerging models for how oxidative modification may regulate DJ-1's protective function and also contribute to dysfunction and disease. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 15, 111–122
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