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Biometals. 1992 Spring;5(1):3-12.

Structure and function of vanadium compounds in living organisms.

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Institut für Anorganische und Angewandte Chemie, Universität Hamburg, Germany.


Vanadium has been recognized as a metal of biological importance only recently. In this mini-review, its main functions uncovered during the past few years are addressed. These encompass (i) the regulation of phosphate metabolizing enzymes (which is exemplified for the inhibition of ribonucleases by vanadate), (ii) the halogenation of organic compounds by vanadate-dependent non-heme peroxidases from seaweeds, (iii) the reductive protonation of nitrogen (nitrogen fixation) by alternative, i.e. vanadium-containing, nitrogenases from N2-fixing bacteria, (iv) vanadium sequestering by sea squirts (ascidians), and (v) amavadine, a low molecular weight complex of V(IV) accumulated in the fly agaric and related toadstools. The function of vanadium, while still illusive in ascidians and toadstools, begins to be understood in vanadium-enzyme interaction. Investigations into the structure and function of model compounds play an increasingly important role in elucidating the biological significance of vanadium.

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