ROS (reactive oxygen species; including superoxide and H2O2) are conventionally thought of as being broadly reactive and cytotoxic. Phagocytes utilize an NADPH oxidase to generate large amounts of ROS, and exploit their toxic properties as a host-defence mechanism to kill invading microbes. However, the recent discovery of the Nox and Duox enzymes that are expressed in many non-phagocytic cells implies that the 'deliberate' generation of ROS has additional cellular roles, which are currently incompletely understood. Functions of ROS in mammals have been inferred primarily from cell-culture experiments, and include signalling for mitogenic growth, apoptosis and angiogenesis. Nox/Duox enzymes may also provide H2O2 as a substrate for peroxidase enzymes (or, in the case of Duox, for its own peroxidase domain), thereby supporting peroxidative reactions. A broad comparison of biological functions of ROS and Nox enzymes across species and kingdoms provides insights into possible functions in mammals. To further understand novel biological roles for Nox/Duox enzymes, we are manipulating the expression of Nox/Duox enzymes in model organisms including Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and mouse. This chapter focuses on new insights into the roles of Nox enzymes gained from these approaches.
- © 2004 The Biochemical Society