Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Lead and Proteins
Name: Mary
Status: Student
Grade:  9-12
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: Canada
Date: Spring 2010


Question:
I know that lead reacts with proteins and can replace proteins such as zinc or calcium, that are needed for the human body. However, i don't understand how lead can react with proteins, or how it can replace another element such as calcium.



Replies:
Proteins contain metal ions which act as co-factors that hold the protein together in the correct shape. When lead replaces calcium, it doesn't fit the same and the shape of the protein is changed. When the shape of the protein is changed, it doesn't work as well and the enzyme function if lost.

Ron Baker, Ph.D.



Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory