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Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide dinoflagellate produces a suite of neurotoxins known as the brevetoxins. The most abundant of the brevetoxins PbTx-2, was found to inhibit the thioredoxin-thioredoxin reductase system, whereas the PbTx-3 has no effect on this system. On the other hand, PbTx-2 activates the reduction of small disulfides such as 5,5′-dithio-bis-(2-nitrobenzoic acid) by thioredoxin reductase. PbTx-2 has an α, β-unsaturated aldehyde moiety which functions as an efficient electrophile and selenocysteine conjugates are readily formed. PbTx-2 blocks the inhibition of TrxR by the inhibitor curcumin, whereas curcumin blocks PbTx-2 activation of TrxR. It is proposed that the mechanism of inhibition of thioredoxin reduction is via the formation of a Michael adduct between selenocysteine and the α, β-unsaturated aldehyde moiety of PbTx-2. PbTx-2 had no effect on the rates of reactions catalyzed by related enzymes such as glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase or glutaredoxin.Brevetoxin (PbTx-2) inhibits thioredoxin reduction by thioredoxin reductase.Brevetoxin (PbTx-2) activates DTNB reduction by thioredoxin reductase.Brevetoxin (PbTx-2) reacts with the active site selenocysteine of thioredoxin reductase.Brevetoxin (PbTx-2) competes with curcumin for the active site of thioredoxin reductase.