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Turnover of metallothioneins in rat liver.


ABSTRACT: Two electrophoretically distinguishable metallothioneins were isolated from the livers of Cd2+-treated rats and had thiol group/metal ratios of 3:1, a total metal content, in each of these proteins, of 3.6 atoms of Cd2+ + 2.4 atoms of Zn2+/molecule and 4.2 atoms of Cd2+ + 2.8 atoms of Zn2+/molecule and respective apoprotein mol.wts. of 5844 and 6251. Studies with 1 h pulse labels of [3H]cysteine, given after a single injection of ZnCl2 or CdCl2, showed that these metals stimulated radioactive isotope incorporation into the metallothioneins over the control value by 10- and 15-fold respectively. This stimulation was maximal at 4 h after a single CdCl2 injection and decreased to control values by 16 h, suggesting that either a translational event is responding to free intracellular Cd2+ or a short-lived mRNA is being produced or stabilized in response to the metal treatment. In rats chronically exposed to CdCl2, the metallothioneins increased to 0.2% of the liver wet weight from a control value of 2--4 mumol/kg of liver, with a maximum rate of accumulation of 2--3 mumol/h per kg of liver. The turnover of these proteins in control animals was 0.3--0.6 mumoles/h per kg of liver, measured by the rate of disappearance of 203Hg2+, which binds irreversibly to the metallothioneins. Pretreatment with CdCl2 completely stopped the rapid 203Hg turnover observed in untreated animals. Unlike CdCl2, treatment with ZnCl2 increased the concentration of metallothioneins to a new steady-state pool, 11 mumole/kg of liver, after 10 h. The increase in the zinc-thionein pool by exposure to ZnCl2 in vivo was determined to be primarily due to a stimulation of metallothionein biosynthesis.

SUBMITTER: Andersen RD 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC1185914 | BioStudies | 1978-01-01

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): 10.1042/bj1740327

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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