Tungsten Compounds - Characteristics - Biological Role

Biological Role

Tungsten, at atomic number 74, is the heaviest element known to be biologically functional, with the next heaviest being iodine (Z = 53). It is used by some bacteria, but not in eukaryotes. For example, enzymes called oxidoreductases use tungsten similarly to molybdenum by using it in a tungsten-pterin complex with molybdopterin (molybdopterin, despite its name, does not contain molybdenum, but may complex with either molybdenum or tungsten in use by living organisms). Tungsten-using enzymes typically reduce carboxylic acids to aldehydes. The tungsten oxidoreductases may also catalyse oxidations. The first tungsten-requiring enzyme to be discovered also requires selenium, and in this case the tungsten-selenium pair may function analogously to the molybdenum-sulfur pairing of some molybdenum cofactor-requiring enzymes. One of the enzymes in the oxidoreductase family which sometimes employ tungsten (bacterial formate dehydrogenase H) is known to use a selenium-molybdenum version of molybdopterin. Although a tungsten-containing xanthine dehydrogenase from bacteria has been found to contain tungsten-molydopterin and also non-protein bound selenium, a tungsten-selenium molybdopterin complex has not been definitively described.

In soil, tungsten metal oxidizes to the tungstate anion. It can be selectively or non-selectively imported by some prokaryotic organisms and may substitute for molybdate in certain enzymes. Its effect on the action of these enzymes is in some cases inhibitory and in others positive. The soil's chemistry determines how the tungsten polymerizes; alkaline soils cause monomeric tungstates; acidic soils cause polymeric tungstates.

Sodium tungstate and lead have been studied for their effect on earthworms. Lead was found to be lethal at low levels and sodium tungstate was much less toxic, but the tungstate completely inhibited their reproductive ability.

Tungsten has been studied as a biological copper metabolic antagonist, in a role similar to the action of molybdenum. It has been found that tetrathiotungstates may be used as biological copper chelation chemicals, similar to the tetrathiomolybdates.

Read more about this topic:  Tungsten Compounds, Characteristics

Other articles related to "biological role":

Cromium - Biological Role
... Chromium has no verified biological role and has been classified by some as not essential for mammals ... Although no biological role for chromium has ever been demonstrated, dietary supplements for chromium include chromium(III) picolinate, chromium(III ... of chromium-containing dietary supplements is controversial, owing to the absence of any verified biological role, the expense of these supplements, and the complex effects of their ...

Famous quotes containing the words role and/or biological:

    Today, only a fool would offer herself as the singular role model for the Good Mother. Most of us know not to tempt the fates. The moment I felt sure I had everything under control would invariably be the moment right before the principal called to report that one of my sons had just driven somebody’s motorcycle through the high school gymnasium.
    Mary Kay Blakely (20th century)

    When human beings have been fascinated by the contemplation of their own hearts, the more intricate biological pattern of the female has become a model for the artist, the mystic, and the saint. When mankind turns instead to what can be done, altered, built, invented, in the outer world, all natural properties of men, animals, or metals become handicaps to be altered rather than clues to be followed.
    Margaret Mead (1901–1978)