Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 62, Issue 21, pp 2414–2437

Human selenoproteins at a glance


DOI: 10.1007/s00018-005-5143-y

Cite this article as:
Gromer, S., Eubel, J.K., Lee, B.L. et al. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2005) 62: 2414. doi:10.1007/s00018-005-5143-y


The public perception of selenium has changed significantly over the last decades. Originally mainly known for its high toxicity, it was later recognized as an essential trace element and is now (despite its narrow therapeutic window) almost being marketed as a lifestyle drug. Indeed, some clinical and preclinical studies suggest that selenium supplementation may be beneficial in a large number of clinical conditions. However, its mode of action is unresolved in most of these cases. Selenocysteine – identified as the 21st amino acid used in ribosome-mediated protein synthesis – is incorporated in at least 25 specific, genetically determined human selenoproteins, many of which have only recently been discovered. Restoration of normal selenoprotein levels may be – apart from direct supranutritional effects – one possible explanation for the effects of selenium supplements. In this review we provide a brief but up-to-date overview of what is currently known about these 25 acknowledged human selenoproteins and their synthesis.

Key words.

Selenoprotein selenium selenoprotein biosynthesis redox metabolism antioxidant 

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biochemiezentrum der Universität Heidelberg (BZH)HeidelbergGermany

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