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How do metal ions acting as enzyme cofactors “find” their respective enzymes?

How do metal ions acting as enzyme cofactors “find” their respective enzymes?


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Metalloproteins are metal-dependent proteins, i.e. they require certain metal ions (copper, magnesium, zinc, etc.) for their correct function in the body. Since proteins are manufactured inside cells by the ribosomes and metal ions are exogenous materials, i.e. are obtained from food, how would a metalloprotein and its respective metal ion find each other in the body? Are the metal ions taken inside all body cells? Does the meeting take place in the blood?

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The metal ions are transported across cell membranes by various mecanisms like channels, pumps or extracellular receptors for carrier protein.

The loading step mostly happens in the cell. Once transported inside, some ions just diffuse into their binding site on the protein; others, like iron, need a scaffold.

Some essential enzymes are metalloproteins, for example most ATP-using enzymes need magnesium; and the respiratory chain needs iron. Thus most cells will have transporters for these metal ions.


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