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Bioinorg Chem. 1978 Aug;9(2):167-80.

Selenium protection against mercury toxicity: high binding affinity of methylmercury by selenium-containing ligands in comparison with sulfur-containing ligands.


In determining the protection of selenium against mercury toxicity, the binding affinity of methylmercury by various selenium-containing ligands was investigated by proton magnetic resonance (PMR) spectroscopy. The most striking feature was the small J199Hg-1H value of the selenocysteamine- and selenocysteine-methylmercury complexes, namely, the high affinity of the selenohydryl group to the mercury in comparison with those of the sulfhydryl and amino groups. The order of binding affinity of the coordination groups toward methylmercury is clearly SeH greater than SH greater than or equal to Se-Se greater than NH2 greater than S-S, SeCH3, SCH3. A definite correlation was found to exist between the mercury-proton coupling constants and the chemical shifts of methyl groups of the methylmercury complexes. A relationship between the order (Se greater than S greater than NH2) of affinity for methylmercury and the basicity (or electronegativity and covalent radius) of the donor groups was also discussed. These results suggest the high covalency of the CH3Hg-Se bond, which involves dpi-dpi back bonding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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