Phosphorus and the Ferritin Iron Core: Function-Balanced Biomineralization

  • Kenneth M. Towe


In the biomineralization of storage iron, the proteins ferritin and hemosiderin sequester iron in a mineral form of colloidal dimensions ( <80 Å). This mineral is the metastable hydrous ferric oxide ferrihydrite (5Fe2O3·9H2O). Ferrihydrite represents an appropriate mineralogical choice to balance the important but opposing physiological functions of iron storage; and iron mobility. The ferrihydrite in both ferritin and hemosiderin contains important amounts of non-structural phosphorus adsorbed to the crystallite surfaces. Experimental data support the suggestion that this phosphorus can act to preserve the role of iron mobility by inhibiting the potential during iron storage for inversion of the more readily soluble, metastable ferrihydrite to one of the less soluble, more stable phases such as goethite (αFeOOH) or hematite (αFe2O3).


Differential Thermal Analysis Iron Storage Ferric Oxide Iron Core Ferric Hydroxide 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth M. Towe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PaleobiologySmithsonian InstitutionUSA

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