CO metabolism, sensing, and signaling

Authors

  • Francesca Gullotta,

    1. Department of Experimental Medicine and Biochemical Sciences, University of Roma “Tor Vergata,” Via Montpellier 1, I-00133 Roma, Italy
    2. Interuniversity Consortium for the Research on the Chemistry of Metals in Biological Systems, Piazza Umberto I 1, I-70126 Bari, Italy
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    • Francesca Gullotta and Alessandra di Masi contributed equally to this work.

  • Alessandra di Masi,

    1. Department of Biology and Interdepartmental Laboratory for Electron Microscopy, University Roma Tre, Viale Marconi 446, I-00146 Roma, Italy
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    • Francesca Gullotta and Alessandra di Masi contributed equally to this work.

  • Massimo Coletta,

    1. Department of Experimental Medicine and Biochemical Sciences, University of Roma “Tor Vergata,” Via Montpellier 1, I-00133 Roma, Italy
    2. Interuniversity Consortium for the Research on the Chemistry of Metals in Biological Systems, Piazza Umberto I 1, I-70126 Bari, Italy
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  • Paolo Ascenzi

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology and Interdepartmental Laboratory for Electron Microscopy, University Roma Tre, Viale Marconi 446, I-00146 Roma, Italy
    • Department of Biology and Interdepartmental Laboratory for Electron Microscopy, University Roma Tre, Viale Marconi 446, I-00146 Roma, Italy
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    • Tel.: +39-06-5733-3621; Fax: +39-06-5733-6321


Abstract

CO is a colorless and odorless gas produced by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, both of natural and anthropogenic origin. Several microorganisms, including aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and anaerobic archaea, use exogenous CO as a source of carbon and energy for growth. On the other hand, eukaryotic organisms use endogenous CO, produced during heme degradation, as a neurotransmitter and as a signal molecule. CO sensors act as signal transducers by coupling a “regulatory” heme-binding domain to a “functional” signal transmitter. Although high CO concentrations inhibit generally heme-protein actions, low CO levels can influence several signaling pathways, including those regulated by soluble guanylate cyclase and/or mitogen-activated protein kinases. This review summarizes recent insights into CO metabolism, sensing, and signaling.

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