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Name: Mary
Status: Student
Grade:  9-12
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: Canada
Date: Spring 2010

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.

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.

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