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Special Issue "Themed Issue for Celebrating 20 Years of the Concept of Reactive Sulfur Species (RSS)"

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049). This special issue belongs to the section "Bioorganic Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Claus Jacob
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Division of Bioorganic Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Saarland University, D-66123 Saarbruecken, Germany
Interests: bioorganic chemistry; catalytic sensor/effector agents; epistemology; intracellular diagnostics; nanotechnology; natural products; reactive sulfur and selenium species; redox regulation via the cellular thiolstat
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Gregory Ian Giles
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand
Interests: reactive sulfur species; redox drugs; nitric oxide; cancer
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Today, the concept of Reactive Sulfur Species (RSS) is firmly established. Despite being a generic term, RSS is employed, and widely cherished, by biochemists, biologists, natural product researchers, and physiologists alike as a means of explaining many intracellular redox processes. On occasion, insight into RSS biology can also inform the development and use of innovative drug molecules and nutraceuticals.

It therefore seems surprising that the concept of RSS itself is only 20 years old—a lot younger than its redox counterparts Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS), which have their origins in the 1980s and early 1990s. Indeed, before the turn of the millennium, biological sulfur species had long been considered to solely consist of thiols and disulfides, passive reducing agents that played a sacrificial role in redox processes.

Interest in sulfur really began in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when researchers began to look beyond the thiol:disulfide redox couple and found new and exciting redox species, such as sulfenic and sulfinic acids, which had unprecedented biological activities. Over time, these RSS have come to the fore, with new discoveries constantly underlining the importance of redox active sulfur in biology. To pick just a few highlights, examples now range from the antioxidant defenses provided by highly reducing thiols through to redox sensing and control via the cellular thiolstat, and from catalysis in enzymes such as the peroxiredoxins (Prdx) to the antimicrobial actions associated with the ingredients of natural products, for instance, the thiosulfinate allicin found in garlic.

Twenty years on, the birthday of RSS provides us with a welcome opportunity to invite authors to contribute toward a Special Issue covering these different aspects of RSS, from their isolation in plants and fungi through to their biochemical, physiological, and pathological actions. In doing so, we hope to bring together the many different strands of research in this field and provide a forum for fruitful exchange and discussion. Possibly, together we will be able to derive a modern definition of the concept of RSS, and the Special Issue also provides a timely opportunity to revisit original discoveries in sulfur’s redox action, reflect upon what has been learnt, and set the scene for future investigations. We hope that you will join us!

Prof. Dr. Claus Jacob
Dr. Gregory Giles
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Molecules is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • antioxidants
  • catalysis
  • cellular thiolstat
  • natural products
  • reactive sulfur species (RSS)
  • redox
  • sulfenic acid
  • thiols

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Expanding the Reactive Sulfur Metabolome: Intracellular and Efflux Measurements of Small Oxoacids of Sulfur (SOS) and H2S in Human Primary Vascular Cell Culture
Molecules 2021, 26(23), 7160; - 26 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 488
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is an endogenous signaling molecule which is important for cardiovascular health, but its mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Here, we report measurements of H2S as well as its oxidized metabolites, termed small oxoacids of sulfur [...] Read more.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is an endogenous signaling molecule which is important for cardiovascular health, but its mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Here, we report measurements of H2S as well as its oxidized metabolites, termed small oxoacids of sulfur (SOS = HSOH and HOSOH), in four human primary vascular cell lines: smooth muscle and endothelial cells derived from both human arterial and coronary tissues. We use a methodology that targets small molecular weight sulfur species; mass spectrometric analysis allows for species quantification to report cellular concentrations based on an H2S calibration curve. The production of H2S and SOS is orders of magnitude higher in smooth muscle (nanomolar) as compared to endothelial cell lines (picomolar). In all the primary lines measured, the distributions of these three species were HOSOH >H2S > HSOH, with much higher SOS than seen previously in non-vascular cell lines. H2S and SOS were effluxed from smooth muscle cells in higher concentrations than endothelial cells. Aortic smooth muscle cells were used to examine changes under hypoxic growth conditions. Hypoxia caused notable increases in HSOH and ROS, which we attribute to enhanced sulfide quinone oxidase activity that results in reverse electron transport. Full article
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