The first life forms evolved in a highly reducing environment. This reduced state is still carried by cells today, which makes the concept of “reductive stress” somewhat redundant. When oxygen became abundant on the Earth, due to the evolution of photosynthesis, life forms had to adapt or become extinct. Living organisms did adapt, proliferated and an explosion of new life forms resulted, using reactive oxygen species (ROS) to drive their evolution. Adaptation to oxygen and its reduction intermediates necessitated the simultaneous evolution of select antioxidant defences, carefully regulated to allow ROS to perform their major roles. Clearly this “oxidative stress” did not cause a major problem to the evolution of complex life forms. Why not? Iron and oxygen share a close relationship in aerobic evolution. Iron is used in proteins to transport oxygen, promote electron transfers, and catalyse chemical reactions. In all of these functions, iron is carefully sequestered within proteins and restricted from reacting with ROS, this sequestration being one of our major antioxidant defences. Iron was abundant to life forms before the appearance of oxygen. However, oxygen caused its oxidative precipitation from solution and thereby decreased its bioavailability and thus the risk of iron-dependent oxidative damage. Micro-organisms had to adapt and develop strategies involving siderophores to acquire iron from the environment and eventually their host. This battle for iron between bacteria and animal hosts continues today, and is a much greater daily threat to our survival than “oxidative stress” and “redox stress”.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications – Elsevier
Published: Jul 12, 2018
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