Document Type



Redox signaling has emerged as a unifying theme in many seemingly disparate disciplines. Such signaling has been widely studied in bacteria and eukaryotic organelles and is often mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this context, reduced glutathione (GSH) acts as an important intracellular antioxidant, diminishing ROS and potentially affecting redox signaling. Complementing this cell-level perspective, colonial hydroids can be a useful model for understanding organism-level redox signaling. These simple, early-evolving animals consist of feeding polyps connected by tubelike stolons. Colonies treated exogenously with GSH or reduced glutathione ethyl ester (GEE) were expected to show a morphological change to sheetlike growth typical of low levels of ROS. Contrary to expectations, diminished stolon branching and polyp initiation was observed. Such runnerlike growth is associated with higher levels of ROS, and surprisingly, such higher levels were found in GSH- and GEE-treated colonies. Further investigations show that GSH triggered a feeding response in hydroid polyps, increasing oxygen uptake but at the same time relaxing mitochondrion-rich contractile regions at the base of polyps. Diminished gastrovascular flow and increased emissions of mitochondrial ROS also correlated with the observed runnerlike growth. In contrast to cell-level, ‘bottom-up’ views of redox signaling, here the phenotype may arise from a ‘top-down’ interaction of mitochondrion-rich regions and organism-level physiology. Such multicellular redox regulation may commonly occur in other animals as well.

Publication Date


Original Citation

Doolen JF, Geddes GC, Blackstone NW. 2007. Multicellular redox regulation in an early-evolving animal treated with glutathione. Physiol Biochem Zool 80(3):317-325.


Department of Biological Sciences

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences






University of Chicago Press



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