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The Chemical Biology of Cadmium

  • Eric Lund
  • Susan Krezoski
  • David Petering
Chapter

Abstract

Cadmium is a major toxic element with important and long-recognized consequences for human health. As a result, Cd2+ has been subjected to thousands of toxicological studies that reveal its complex and wide-ranging impacts on cellular processes. Nevertheless, as with other toxic metals, it has been difficult to extend this research to the molecular level, where Cd2+ binds to particular molecules and initiates mechanisms of cell injury. This chapter sets forth a framework for considering the molecular interactions of Cd2+ with biomolecules, principally proteins. The paradigm is developed that at the proteomic level, Cd2+ may undergo metal exchange reactions with many Zn-proteins. In some cases, protein functions are perturbed and toxicity results. In others, as with its reaction with Zn-metallothionein, Cd2+ is inactivated. In all cases, the important role of adventitious binding of Cd2+ and Zn2+ within the proteome is emphasized. These ideas are given specificity in research into the molecular involvement of Cd2+ in nephrotoxicity and carcinogenesis. Examples of the chemical participation of Cd2+ in cell signaling are described. These include the activation of MTF-1 transcription factor and the stimulation of complex apoptotic pathways that may depend on the initial production of reactive oxygen species. With little information that Cd2+ interacts directly with proteins involved in the trafficking or function of other metals (Fe, Cu, Ca), the chapter concludes with a discussion of analytical methods to determine the speciation of cadmium within the proteome and particularly the zinc proteome.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Some of the research reported in this review was supported by NIH grant ES-024509 and by a Research Growth Initiative grant from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

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