Expanding roles of superoxide dismutases in cell regulation and cancer

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Superoxide dismutases are not only key antioxidant enzymes but they also have important roles in cell signaling, metabolism and transcription. They are involved in cancer initiation, progression and metastasis, and are potential anticancer drug targets.

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have important roles in normal physiology and diseases, particularly cancer. Under normal physiological conditions, they participate in redox reactions and serve as second messengers for regulatory functions. Owing to aberrant metabolism, cancer cells accumulate excessive

ROS, thus requiring a robustly active antioxidant system to prevent cellular damage. Superoxide dismutases (SODs) are enzymes that catalyze the removal of superoxide free radicals. There are three distinct members of this metalloenzyme family in mammals: SOD1 (Cu/ZnSOD), SOD2 (MnSOD) and SOD3 (ecSOD). SODs are increasingly recognized for their regulatory functions in growth, metabolism
and oxidative stress responses, which are also crucial for cancer development and survival. Growing evidence shows that SODs are also potentially useful anticancer drug targets. This review will focus on recent research of SODs in cellular regulation, with emphasis on their roles in cancer biology and therapy.

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