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Biomolecular Concepts

Editor-in-Chief: Di Cera, Enrico


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1868-503X
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Volume 1, Issue 1

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Advances in research on the accumulation, redox behavior, and function of vanadium in ascidians

Hitoshi Michibata
  • Department of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science, Hiroshima University, 1-3-1 Kagamiyama, Higashihiroshima 739-8526, Japan
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Tatsuya Ueki
  • Department of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science, Hiroshima University, 1-3-1 Kagamiyama, Higashihiroshima 739-8526, Japan
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2010-03-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bmc.2010.003

Abstract

The discovery of high levels of vanadium-containing compounds in ascidian blood cells goes back to 1911. Ascidians, which are also known as tunicates or sea squirts, belong to a subphylum of the Chordata, between the vertebrates and invertebrates. This discovery attracted the attention of an interdisciplinary group of chemists, physiologists, and biochemists, in part because of interest in the possible role of vanadium in oxygen transport as a prosthetic group in respiratory pigments, which was later shown not to be such a role, and in part because of the fact that high levels of vanadium were unknown in other organisms. The intracellular concentration of vanadium in some ascidian species can be as high as 350 mm, which is 107 times that in seawater. Vanadium ions, which are thought to be present in the +5 oxidation state in seawater, are reduced to the +3 oxidation state via the +4 oxidation state and are stored in the vacuoles of vanadium-containing cells called vanadocytes, where high levels of protons and sulfate ions are also found. Recently, many proteins and genes that might be involved in the accumulation and reduction of vanadium have been isolated. In this review, we not only trace the history of vanadium research but also describe recent advances in our understanding of the field from several viewpoints: (i) vanadium-accumulating blood cells, (ii) the energetics of vanadium accumulation, (iii) the redox mechanism of vanadium, (iv) the possible role of sulfate, and (v) the physiological roles of vanadium.

Keywords: ascidian; hyperaccumulation; metal-binding proteins; redox; vanadium

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Published Online: 2010-03-16

Published in Print: 2010-05-01


Citation Information: BioMolecular Concepts, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 97–107, ISSN (Online) 1868-503X, ISSN (Print) 1868-5021, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bmc.2010.003.

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