Understanding the Logistics for the Distribution of Heme in Cells

Andrea E Gallio, Simon S.P. Fung, Ana Cammack-Najera, Andrew J Hudson*, Emma Raven*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


Heme is essential for the survival of virtually all living systems—from bacteria, fungi, and yeast, through plants to animals. No eukaryote has been identified that can survive without heme. There are thousands of different proteins that require heme in order to function properly, and these are responsible for processes such as oxygen transport, electron transfer, oxidative stress response, respiration, and catalysis. Further to this, in the past few years, heme has been shown to have an important regulatory role in cells, in processes such as transcription, regulation of the circadian clock, and the gating of ion channels. To act in a regulatory capacity, heme needs to move from its place of synthesis (in mitochondria) to other locations in cells. But while there is detailed information on how the heme lifecycle begins (heme synthesis), and how it ends (heme degradation), what happens in between is largely a mystery. Here we summarize recent information on the quantification of heme in cells, and we present a discussion of a mechanistic framework that could meet the logistical challenge of heme distribution.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number10
Early online date10 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021


  • heme
  • heme quantification
  • heme trafficking
  • heme homeostasis
  • heme sensors


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