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Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
The thioredoxin system helps maintain a reducing environment in cells, but thioredoxin functions as more than simply an antioxidant. Thioredoxin functions depend on the protein's redox state, as determined by two conserved cysteines. Key biologic activities of thioredoxin include antioxidant, growth control, and antiapoptotic properties, resulting from interaction with target molecules including transcription factors. Mechanisms by which thioredoxin regulates cell growth include binding to signaling molecules such as apoptosis signal-regulating kinase-1 (ASK-1) and thioredoxin-interacting protein (Txnip). The molecular interplay between thioredoxin, ASK-1, and Txnip potentially influences cell growth and survival in diverse human diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In this review, we focus on the structure of thioredoxin and its functional regulation of cell growth through the interactions with signaling molecules.