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J Biol Inorg Chem. 2004 Mar;9(2):119-23. Epub 2004 Jan 13.

Discovery of superoxide reductase: an historical perspective.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Chimie et Biochimie des Centres Redox Biologiques, DRDC-CB, UMR CEA/CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier no. 5047, CEA Grenoble, 17 Avenue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble Cedex 9, France.


For more than 30 years, the only enzymatic system known to catalyze the elimination of superoxide was superoxide dismutase, SOD. SOD has been found in almost all organisms living in the presence of oxygen, including some anaerobic bacteria, supporting the notion that superoxide is a key and general component of oxidative stress. Recently, a new concept in the field of the mechanisms of cellular defense against superoxide has emerged. It was discovered that elimination of superoxide in some anaerobic and microaerophilic bacteria could occur by reduction, a reaction catalyzed by a small metalloenzyme thus named superoxide reductase, SOR. Having played a major role in this discovery, we describe here how the concept of superoxide reduction emerged and how it was experimentally substantiated independently in our laboratory.

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