Author(s): Maret W, Maret W
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Abstract The paramount importance of zinc for a wide range of biological functions is based on its occurrence in thousands of known zinc proteins. To regulate the availability of zinc dynamically, eukaryotes have compartmentalized zinc and the metallothionein/thionein pair, which controls the pico- to nanomolar concentrations of metabolically active cellular zinc. Interactions of zinc with sulfur ligands of cysteines turn out to be critical both for tight binding and creation of a redox-active coordination environment from which the redox-inert zinc can be distributed. Biological oxidants such as disulfides and S-nitrosothiols oxidize the zinc/thiolate clusters in metallothionein with concomitant zinc release. In addition, selenium compounds that have the capacity to form selenol(ate)s catalytically couple with the glutathione/glutathione disulfide and metallothionein/thionein redox pairs to either release or bind zinc. In this pathway, selenium expresses its antioxidant effects through redox catalysis in zinc metabolism. Selenium affects the redox state of thionein, an endogenous chelating agent. With its 20 cysteines, thionein contributes significantly to the zinc- and thiol-redox-buffering capacity of the cell. Thus, hitherto unknown interactions between the essential micronutrients zinc and selenium on the one hand and zinc and redox metabolism on the other are key features of the cellular homeostatic zinc system.
This article was published in J Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Neuroinfectious Diseases