Sulfides and persulfides/polysulfides (R-Sn-Rʹ, n > 2; R-Sn-H, n > 1) are endogenously produced metabolites that are abundant in mammalian and human cells and tissues. The most typical persulfides that are widely distributed among different organisms include various reactive persulfides—low-molecular-weight thiol compounds such as cysteine hydropersulfide, glutathione hydropersulfide, and glutathione trisulfide as well as protein-bound thiols. These species are generally more redox-active than are other simple thiols and disulfides. Although hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has been suggested for years to be a small signaling molecule, it is intimately linked biochemically to persulfides and may actually be more relevant as a marker of functionally active persulfides. Reactive persulfides can act as powerful antioxidants and redox signaling species and are involved in energy metabolism. Recent evidence revealed that cysteinyl-tRNA synthetases (CARSs) act as the principal cysteine persulfide synthases in mammals and contribute significantly to endogenous persulfide/polysulfide production, in addition to being associated with a battery of enzymes including cystathionine β-synthase, cystathionine γ-lyase, and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase, which have been described as H2S-producing enzymes. The reactive sulfur metabolites including persulfides/polysulfides derived from CARS2, a mitochondrial isoform of CARS, also mediate not only mitochondrial biogenesis and bioenergetics but also anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory functions. The physiological roles of persulfides, their biosynthetic pathways, and their pathophysiology in various diseases are not fully understood, however. Developing basic and high precision techniques and methods for the detection, characterization, and quantitation of sulfides and persulfides is therefore of great importance so as to thoroughly understand and clarify the exact functions and roles of these species in cells and in vivo.
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