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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2004 Apr;8(2):162-8.

Superoxide dismutases: active sites that save, but a protein that kills.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY, 40506-0055, USA.


Protection from oxidative damage is sufficiently important that biology has evolved three independent enzymes for hastening superoxide dismutation: the Cu- and Zn-containing superoxide dismutases (Cu,Zn-SODs), the SODs that are specific for Fe or Mn or function with either of the two (Fe-SODs, Mn-SODs or Fe/Mn-SODs), and the SODs that use Ni (Ni-SODs). Despite the overwhelming similarities between the active sites of Fe-SOD and Mn-SOD, the mechanisms and redox tuning of these two sites appear to incorporate crucial differences consistent with the differences between Fe3+/2+ and Mn3+/2+. Ni-SOD is revealed by spectroscopy to employ completely different ligation to that of the other SODs while nonetheless incorporating a device also found in Cu,Zn-SOD. Finally, the protein of human Cu,Zn-SOD appears to be an important contributor to the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, possibly because of its propensity for extended beta-sheet formation.

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