Cellular iron metabolism

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  • Iron is the most abundant element on earth representing nearly 90% of the mass in the earth’s core, yet only trace elements are present in living cells. Most of the iron in the body is located within the porphyrin ring of heme, which is incorporated into proteins such as hemoglobin, myoglobin, cytochromes, catalases and peroxidases. Although iron appears in a variety of oxidation states, in particular as hexavalent ferrate, the ferrous and ferric forms are of most importance.

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  • Iron regulatory protein-1 binding to the iron-responsive element of mRNA is sensitive to iron, oxidative stress, NO, and hypoxia. Each of these agents changes the level of intracellular ATP, suggesting a link between iron levels and cellular energy metabolism.

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  • Amongst a wide variety of different biochemical reactions in cellular car-bon metabolism, thiamin diphosphate-dependent enzymes catalyze the oxi-dative decarboxylation of 2-keto acids. This type of reaction typically involves redox coupled acyl transfer to CoA or phosphate and is mediated by additional cofactors, such as flavins, iron-sulfur clusters or lipoamide swinging arms, which transmit the reducing equivalents that arise during keto acid oxidation to a final electron acceptor.

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