Oxidative damage to proteins is considered to be one of the major causes of aging and age-related diseases, and thus mechanisms have evolved to prevent or reverse these modifications.
Methionine is one of the major targets of reactive oxygen species (ROS), where it is oxidized to methionine sulfoxide (MetO).
Recently, evidence has accumulated suggesting that methionine (Met) oxidation may play an important role in the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Oxidative alteration of Met to Met(O) is reversed by the methionine sulfoxide reductases (consisting of MsrA enzymes that reduce S-MetO and MsrB enzymes that reduce R-MetO, respectively).
A major biological role of the Msr system is suggested by the fact that the MsrA null mouse (MT) exhibits a neurological disorder in the form of ataxia ("tip toe walking"), is more sensitive to oxidative stress, and has a shorter life span (by approximately 40%) than wild-type (WT) mice.
By their action, the Msr enzymes can regulate protein function, be involved in signal-transduction pathways, and prevent cellular accumulation of faulty proteins.
Malfunction of the Msr system can lead to cellular changes resulting in compromised antioxidant defense, enhanced age-associated diseases involving neurodegeneration, and shorter life span.