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Chapter 12: Bioinorganic Chemistry

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    Metals play a wide range of important roles in biological systems. This chapter will give an overview of the roles metals can play in biochemical reactions and highlight a few metal containing proteins in greater detail.

    Learning Objectives
    • Observe the different roles metals can play in biological systems
    • Apply inorganic chemistry principles (MO theory, CFT, HSAB, etc.) to metalloproteins

    Thumbnail images is the structure of Cytochrome C (CC BY-SA; Vossman via Wikimedia Commons)

    • Section 12.1: Biological Significance of Metals
      The transition metals are among the least abundant metal ions in the sea water from which contemporary organisms are thought to have evolved. For many of the metals, the concentration in human blood plasma greatly exceeds that in sea water. Such data indicate the importance of mechanisms for accumulation, storage, and transport of transition metals in living organisms.
    • Section 12.2: Introduction to Amino Acids and Proteins
      Many amino acids have side chains which can act as ligands for metal centers in proteins. For your reference, this section illustrates the chemical structures of all the amino acids.
    • Section 12.3: Biological Dioxygen Transport and Storage
      Most organisms require molecular oxygen in order to survive. The oxygen is used in a host of biochemical transformations. A number of iron and copper metalloproteins have evolved to transport oxygen from the lungs or gills to where it is needed and to store it until it is needed.
    • Section 12.4: Biological Metal Storage
    • Section 12.5: Zinc as Lewis Acid and Template
      Unlike most other biologically important metals, zinc is not redox active and does not directly participate in catalytic reaction. Zinc ions do play important biochemical roles. They can act as Lewis acids, to indirectly catalyse reactions such as the hydration of carbon dioxide in carbonic anhydrase. They can also act as templates or scaffolds for protein tertiary structures
    • Section 12.6: Electron Transfer
      Metalloproteins that function as electron transferases typically place their metal coordination sites in a hydrophobic environment and may provide hydrogen bonds (in addition to ligands) to assist in stabilizing both the oxidized and the reduced forms of the cofactor. Metal-ligand bonds remain intact upon electron transfer to minimize inner-sphere reorganization energy.

    Chapter 12: Bioinorganic Chemistry is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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