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Org Biomol Chem. 2010 Oct 7;8(19):4203-16. doi: 10.1039/c0Ob00086h. Epub 2010 Aug 17.

Tellurium: an element with great biological potency and potential.

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Division of Bioorganic Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Saarland University, PO Box 151150, D-66123, Saarbruecken, Germany.


Tellurium has long appeared as a nearly 'forgotten' element in Biology, with most studies focusing on tellurite, tellurate and a handful of organic tellurides. During the last decade, several discoveries have fuelled a renewed interest in this element. Bioincorporation of telluromethionine provides a new approach to add heavy atoms to selected sites in proteins. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) nanoparticles are fluorescent and may be used as quantum dots in imaging and diagnosis. The antibiotic properties of tellurite, long known yet almost forgotten, have attracted renewed interest, especially since the biochemical mechanisms of tellurium cytotoxicity are beginning to emerge. The close chemical relationship between tellurium and sulfur also transcends into in vitro and in vivo situations and provides new impetus for the development of enzyme inhibitors and redox modulators, some of which may be of interest in the field of antibiotics and anticancer drug design.

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