Persulfides (RSSH/RSS) can be formed in protein and non-protein thiols (RSH) through several different pathways, some of which are dependent on hydrogen sulfide (H2S/HS). In addition to their roles in biosynthetic processes, persulfides are possible transducers of physiological effects of H2S through the modification of critical cysteines. Persulfides have a very rich biological chemistry that is currently under investigation. They are more nucleophilic and acidic than thiols and, unlike thiols, they can also be electrophilic. They are especially good one-electron reductants. Methods to detect their formation are under continuous development. In this minireview we describe the pathways of formation of persulfides, their biochemical properties and the techniques available for their detection, and we discuss the possible implications of their formation in biological systems.

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