Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins

2013 Edition
| Editors: Robert H. Kretsinger, Vladimir N. Uversky, Eugene A. Permyakov

Selenium, Biologically Active Compounds

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-1533-6_485


 Sec – Selenocysteine;  SECIS – Selenocysteine insertion element


Selenium is a heavy analog of sulfur and its derivatives have similar chemical properties to those of sulfur. However, selenium compounds are more nucleophilic and are more stable in lower oxidation states. These differences lead to selenorganic compounds playing an important role in maintenance of redox balance in the physiological environment.


Selenium is a heavier analog of sulfur. Chemical properties of selenium and sulfur atoms (bond energies, ionization potentials, atom sizes) are nearly identical. Thus, most organoselenium compounds are the analogs of organosulfur ones.

However, there are a few substantial differences in chemical properties between sulfur and selenium. Due to the presence of an additional filled electron shell, selenium accommodates additional electrons better than sulfur. It has a stronger preference for lower oxidation states compared to sulfur (Se+6is much less...

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular Medicine, Morsani College of MedicineUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA