Transport routes of metalloids into and out of the cell: A review of the current knowledge
Authors: Zangi, R; Filella, M
Chemico-Biological Interactions. [Review]
HERO ID: 1015719
Except for their extra- and intra-cellular interfaces, cell membranes are hydrophobic and inhibit the . . .
Except for their extra- and intra-cellular interfaces, cell membranes are hydrophobic and inhibit the transport of hydrophilic molecules. Metalloids in aqueous solutions form chemical species with oxygen and hydroxyl groups and, therefore, exist as hydrophilic neutral polar solutes or as hydrophilic anions. This characteristic of metalloids introduces a large barrier for their passage through the cell membrane via unaided diffusion. The necessity for an uptake mechanism for metalloids arises from the requirement of these species for the maintenance of life, such as the need of boron for plant cells. Conversely, the transport of these species out of the cell is necessary because some metalloids are toxic, such as arsenic and antimony, and their entrance into the cell is undesirable. The undesired uptake of these toxic species is possible via pathways designed for the uptake of other structurally and chemically similar essential compounds. Therefore, the extrusion of arsenic and antimony out of the cell is an example of a detoxification mechanism. As a consequence of the hydrophobic character of the cell membrane in all living systems, the main route for the uptake and efflux of metalloids is facilitated by transmembrane proteins, driven either by concentration gradients or by energy-fueled pumps. However, metalloids forming or embedded in nano-sized particles escape the need to cross the cell membrane because these particles can be taken into the cell by endocytosis. Here, we review the uptake and efflux pathways of boron, silicon, arsenic, and antimony through the cell membranes of different organisms and the protein channels involved in these processes. In particular, passive diffusion via aquaglyceroporins, active transport via primary and secondary ion pumps, extrusion into vacuoles of metalloid-thiol conjugates via ATP-binding cassette, the efflux of methylated metalloids, and endocytosis are summarized.