Cancer cells are abnormal cells that do not comply with tissue homeostasis but undergo uncontrolled proliferation. Such abnormality is driven mostly by somatic mutations on oncogenes and tumor suppressors. Cancerous mutations show intra-tumoral heterogeneity across cancer types and eventually converge into the self-activation of proliferative signaling. While transient production of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) is essential for cell signaling, its persistent production is cytotoxic. Thus, cancer cells require increased levels of intracellular ROS for continuous proliferation, but overexpress cellular peroxidase enzymes, such as 2-Cys peroxiredoxins, to maintain ROS homeostasis. However, suppression of 2-Cys peroxiredoxins has also been reported in some metastatic cancers. Hence, the cancer-associated functions of 2-Cys peroxiredoxins must be illuminated in the cellular context. In this review, we describe the distinctive signaling roles of 2-Cys peroxiredoxins beyond their intrinsic ROS-scavenging role in relation to cancer cell death and survival.
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