Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2009-14


Metals and membrane metal transporters in biological systems: the role(s) of Nramp in host-parasite interactions.




Lin, Z; Fernandez-Robledo, JA; Cellier, MFM; Vasta, GR


The Journal of the Argentine Chemical Society 97(1):210-225


Metals are essential to a wide variety of biological processes in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. Thus, a fine-tuned system for metal acquisition, storage, and export is critical for most biological activities, and disruption of metal homeostasis can cause dysfunction, disease, or death. For example, iron is critical for cell growth, oxygen utilization, enzymatic activity, and innate immune responses. Concerning the latter, "nutritional immunity" has been defined as the dynamic interaction between pathogens and hosts, including sequestration of iron and other cations as a non-specific host response to infection. Hence, innate resistance to microbial challenge is, at least in part, derived from basal metabolic functions, and influenced by genetic factors. One illustrative example is the natural resistance-associated macrophage protein 1 (Nramp1), a critical factor in the mouse innate resistance to infection by intracellular pathogens, such as Mycobacterium bovis, Leishmania donovani, and Salmonella typhimurium. In this review, following a brief introduction about the general roles of metals and metal transporters in biological systems, we place particular emphasis on the molecular, structural, phylogenetic, and functional aspects of Nramp as a divalent cation transporter in host-parasite interactions.

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