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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Sep;1823(9):1531-52. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.04.010. Epub 2012 May 1.

The ins and outs of algal metal transport.

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Department of Chemistry, Box 951569, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095‐1569, USA.


Metal transporters are a central component in the interaction of algae with their environment. They represent the first line of defense to cellular perturbations in metal concentration, and by analyzing algal metal transporter repertoires, we gain insight into a fundamental aspect of algal biology. The ability of individual algae to thrive in environments with unique geochemistry, compared to non-algal species commonly used as reference organisms for metal homeostasis, provides an opportunity to broaden our understanding of biological metal requirements, preferences and trafficking. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is the best developed reference organism for the study of algal biology, especially with respect to metal metabolism; however, the diversity of algal niches necessitates a comparative genomic analysis of all sequenced algal genomes. A comparison between known and putative proteins in animals, plants, fungi and algae using protein similarity networks has revealed the presence of novel metal metabolism components in Chlamydomonas including new iron and copper transporters. This analysis also supports the concept that, in terms of metal metabolism, algae from similar niches are more related to one another than to algae from the same phylogenetic clade. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Cell Biology of Metals.

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