The binding, transport and fate of aluminium in biological cells.
J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2015 Apr ;30:90-5. Epub 2014 Nov 20. PMID: 25498314
Aluminium is the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust and yet, paradoxically, it has no known biological function. Aluminium is biochemically reactive, it is simply that it is not required for any essential process in extant biota. There is evidence neither of element-specific nor evolutionarily conserved aluminium biochemistry. This means that there are no ligands or chaperones which are specific to its transport, there are no transporters or channels to selectively facilitate its passage across membranes, there are no intracellular storage proteins to aid its cellular homeostasis and there are no pathways which evolved to enable the metabolism and excretion of aluminium. Of course, aluminium is found in every compartment of every cell of every organism, from virus through to Man. Herein we have investigated each of the 'silent' pathways and metabolic events which together constitute a form of aluminium homeostasis in biota, identifying and evaluating as far as is possible what is known and, equally importantly, what is unknown about its uptake, transport, storage and excretion.