Encyclopedia of Biophysics

2013 Edition
| Editors: Gordon C. K. Roberts


  • Brian R. GibneyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-16712-6_43



Heme, the ferrous iron complex of protoporphyrin IX, is a common prosthetic group in proteins including the electron transfer  cytochromes, the respiratory complexes, and the oxygen carrier hemoglobin.

Basic Characteristics


Iron porphyrins, including iron (protoporphyrin IX) or heme b, are one of the most versatile and visible classes of redox cofactors utilized in biochemistry and biophysics. Naturally occurring from archaebacteria to mammals, heme proteins carry out diverse biochemical tasks such as electron transfer, substrate oxidation, metal-ion storage, ligand sensing/transport, and gene regulation. Thus, heme proteins are critical components in numerous biological processes including hormone and steroid biosynthesis, drug metabolism, aerobic respiration, and even programmed cell death. The dysfunction of natural heme proteins leads to a myriad of human diseases including...

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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryBrooklyn College – The City University of New YorkBrooklynUSA