Selenium pp 457-470 | Cite as

Selenium Metabolism in Prokaryotes



Biologically active selenium occurs as a modification in tRNA, noncovalently attached cofactor, or as the amino acid selenocysteine, exerting functions key to the metabolism of the organism harboring it. In prokaryotes, selenocysteine is found in the catalytic site of numerous redox-active enzymes. It was designated as the 21st genetically encoded amino acid because it is cotranslationally inserted into growing polypeptides and universally encoded by the stop-codon UGA on the mRNA. The pathway of selenocysteine biosynthesis and incorporation is well understood in Bacteria, but considerable gaps of knowledge still exist in the respective system of the Archaea. This chapter aims to summarize details on prokaryal selenium biology with a focus on emphasizing the differences of the bacterial and the archaeal pathways of selenoprotein synthesis.


Formate Dehydrogenase Selenium Species SECIS Element Selenoprotein Gene Selenium Metabolism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am deeply grateful to August Böck for having been my teacher and mentor; it was a privilege to be his graduate student. Work on the archaeal selenoprotein synthesis machinery in my laboratory is supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (via SFB 579).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Molekulare BiowissenschaftenJohann Wolfgang Goethe-UniversitätFrankfurt am MainGermany

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