Oxidative stress is a biochemical condition in which the levels of oxidant molecules exceed the level of reductants (also known as anti-oxidants) in an organism. High concentrations of oxidants can alter the activity of enzymes and damage lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Reporting in Molecular Cell, the lab of Javier Martinez reveals a novel and surprising mechanism of how an essential enzyme protects itself from oxidative stress. The tRNA ligase RTCB evolved with another protein whose sole purpose is to protect RTCB from oxidation. This protein, called PYROXD1, is linked to myopathies in humans and, paradoxically, uses a key cellular oxidant, NADP+, to protect its partner.
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