The dual personality of ionic copper in biology

  • Martine CuillelEmail author
Original Article


Biological copper is mainly involved in electron transport to catalyse essential oxido-reduction processes. It is an essential trace element which is extremely toxic because exchangeable intracellular copper is Cu(I) which generates reactive oxygen species. To handle this paradox the evolution has led to a fine homeostasis in which copper ions are never free. Intracellular Cu(I) instead is bound to numerous proteins forming specific cascades towards its targets.


Copper Biology Homeostasis Toxicity 



I thank Florent Guillain for stimulating discussions that helped in preparation of this manuscript just before his uptake into a new life after 40 harmonious lab’s years and Elisabeth Mintz, a member of our team, for critical reading and useful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEA, DSV, iRTSV, Laboratoire de Chimie et Biologie des MétauxGrenoble Cedex 9France
  2. 2.CNRS, UMR 5249GrenobleFrance
  3. 3.Université Joseph FourierGrenobleFrance

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