Bioinorganic Chemistry

Bioinorganic Chemistry... WHAT IS IT ?


The year 2011 celebrated Chemistry. Aiming to make more evident the role of Chemistry in the day by day life, in the past, presented and future, multiple and diverse activities were performed world wide, giving emphasis on the importance of this discipline. Traditionally, Chemistry is divided in areas such as: Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry, and a clear trend is observed connecting Chemistry to Biology and Biochemistry.
A recent area (aged of circa 30 years) emerged: Bioinorganic Chemistry, considered some times a non-sense name, since puts together an organic side, with a negative “in” that neutralizes the addition of the “bio” counterpart. The creation of such a scientific field was a necessary need for the understanding that Chemistry of Life (traditional considered to be a domain of Carbon Chemistry detailed considered by Organic Chemistry, in transformation reactions of citric, lactic, acetic acids, etc...) required inorganic elements (in particular sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and many metals such as iron, copper, nickel, cobalt and others less know, such as vanadium, molybdenum and tungsten (in general all the “transition metals”). A new discipline, connecting a wide range of interdisciplinary fields, was found and the role of metal ions in biology becomes a central point in all the studies related to the life sciences.
Bioinorganic Chemistry brought together Biochemistry and Inorganic Chemistry in interface with Chemistry, Biology, and Physics.

Bioinorganic Chemistry examines the role of metal ions in biology. The relation structure/function of the proteins bound to metals took a prime role. The topic includes not only the study of natural occurring metalloenzymes and metalloproteins, but also the introduction of metal ions in biological systems with different objectives, including essential and non-essential metals, being related to essentiality and toxicity. The topic also accommodates the study of inorganic compounds that mimic and model structure and reactivity of metal catalytic sites in biology. The area expanded to Metallomics.

Being a wise mixture of Biochemistry and Inorganic Chemistry, Bioinorganic Chemistry has a fundamental role on the understanding of many topics and applications:
          • metal transport, storage, homeostasis
          • electron-transfer proteins
          • substrate binding and activation
          • atom and group transfer chemistry
          • properties of metals in biological chemistry
          • organometallic compounds in biology
          • gene regulation
          • metals in medicine
          • bioenergy
          • biocycle of the elements
with relevance in medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural applications, in environmental problems and biotechnological industries.

The scientific field covered by Bioinorganic Chemistry / Metallobiochemistry is widespread and still growing. The American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry created a subdivision focused in Bioinorganic Chemistry. In 1995, the establishment of the International Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry (ICBIC) that host the Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry (JBIC) and supports the International Conference in Biological Inorganic Chemistry - ICBIC (every 2 years, since 32 years) was a key note for international recognition of the field. The European Society of Chemistry also supports a “Chemistry for Life Sciences” division and IUPAC has been discussing the Glossary for Bioinorganic Chemistry.