© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. The wild-type metallothionein (MT) of the freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata and a natural allelic mutant of it in which a lysine residue was replaced by an asparagine residue, were recombinantly expressed and analyzed for their metal-binding features with respect to Cd2+, Zn2+ and Cu+, applying spectroscopic and mass-spectrometric methods. In addition, the upregulation of the Biomphalaria glabrata MT gene was assessed by quantitative real-time detection PCR. The two recombinant proteins revealed to be very similar in most of their metal binding features. They lacked a clear metal-binding preference for any of the three metal ions assayed—which, to this degree, is clearly unprecedented in the world of Gastropoda MTs. There were, however, slight differences in copper-binding abilities between the two allelic variants. Overall, the missing metal specificity of the two recombinant MTs goes hand in hand with lacking upregulation of the respective MT gene. This suggests that in vivo, the Biomphalaria glabrata MT may be more important for metal replacement reactions through a constitutively abundant form, rather than for metal sequestration by high binding specificity. There are indications that the MT of Biomphalaria glabrata may share its unspecific features with MTs from other freshwater snails of the Hygrophila family.
- Biomphalaria glabrata