Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
The understanding of sulfur bonding is undergoing change. Old theories on hypervalency of sulfur and the nature of the chalcogen-chalcogen bond are now questioned. At the same time, there is a rapidly expanding literature on the effects of sulfur in regulating biological systems. The two fields are inter-related because the new understanding of the thiosulfoxide bond helps to explain the newfound roles of sulfur in biology. This review examines the nature of thiosulfoxide (sulfane, S0) sulfur, the history of its regulatory role, its generation in biological systems, and its functions in cells. The functions include synthesis of cofactors (molybdenum cofactor, iron-sulfur clusters), sulfuration of tRNA, modulation of enzyme activities, and regulating the redox environment by several mechanisms (including the enhancement of the reductive capacity of glutathione). A brief review of the analogous form of selenium suggests that the toxicity of selenium may be due to over-reduction caused by the powerful reductive activity of glutathione perselenide.
Toohey, J. I., & Cooper, A. J. (2014). Thiosulfoxide (sulfane) sulfur: New chemistry and new regulatory roles in biology. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 19(8), 12789-12813. doi:10.3390/molecules190812789