Although reactive oxygen species play important roles in cellular physiology as signalling molecules, their molecular targets are largely unknown. A probable group of targets for mediating many of the effects of reactive oxygen species on cell signalling is the large diverse family of cysteine-dependent phosphatases, which includes the protein tyrosine phosphatases. Our work and that of others suggest that the oxidative inactivation of protein and lipid phosphatases plays an important part in signalling, downstream of many cellular stimuli. Future studies should give us a clearer picture of the role of phosphatase inactivation in cellular behaviour and explain how specificity is achieved in redox signalling.

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