Arsenite - Bacteria Using and Generating Arsenate

Bacteria Using and Generating Arsenate

Some species of bacteria obtain their energy by oxidizing various fuels while reducing arsenates to form arsenites. The enzymes involved are known as arsenate reductases.

In 2008, bacteria were discovered that employ a version of photosynthesis with arsenites as electron donors, producing arsenates (just like ordinary photosynthesis uses water as electron donor, producing molecular oxygen). The researchers conjectured that historically these photosynthesizing organisms produced the arsenates that allowed the arsenate-reducing bacteria to thrive.

In humans, arsenite inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH complex) in the pyruvate acetyl CoA reaction, and binds to the SH group of lipoamide, a participant coenzyme. In this inhibition, arsenite poisoning affects energy production in the body.

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