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Biometals. 2002 Dec;15(4):341-6.

Chemistry for an essential biological process: the reduction of ferric iron.

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  • 1LEDSS, UMR CNRS 5616, Universit√© Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.


In biological systems, the predominant form of iron is the trivalent Fe(III) form, which is potentially not readily bioavailable because of its hydrolysis and polymerization to insoluble forms. It is also the easiest of the two predominant forms of iron to chelate selectively. In a short overview of iron chemistry, we point out some of the pitfalls using standard redox potentials, comment on the interaction of ferric complexes with hydrogen peroxide to give hydroxyl radicals and address the release of iron from ferrisiderophores. In biological systems there are two classes of ferric reductases, the soluble flavin reductases found in prokaryotes, and the membrane-bound cytochrome b-like reductases found in eukaryotes. Finally the role of dissimilatory ferric reduction in microbial respiration and biomineralization is discussed.

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