His-containing plant metallothioneins: Comparative study of divalent metal-ion binding by plant MT3 and MT4 isoforms

Mireia Tomas, María Ayelen Pagani, Carlos S. Andreo, Mercè Capdevila, Roger Bofill, Sílvia Atrian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 SBIC. Metallothioneins (MTs) are a superfamily of Cys-rich, low-molecular weight metalloproteins that bind heavy metal ions. These cytosolic metallopeptides, which exist in most living organisms, are thought to be involved in metal homeostasis, metal detoxification, and oxidative stress protection. In this work, we characterise the Zn(II)- and Cd(II)-binding abilities of plant type 3 and type 4 MTs identified in soybean and sunflower, both of them being His-containing peptides. The recombinant metal-MT complexes synthesised in Zn(II) or Cd(II)-enriched Escherichia coli cultures have been analysed by ESI-MS, and CD, ICP-AES, and UV spectroscopies. His-to-Ala type 3 MT mutants have also been constructed and synthesised for the study of the role of His in divalent metal ion coordination. The results show comparable divalent metal-binding capacities for the MTs of type 3, and suggest, for the first time, the participation of their conserved C-term His residues in metal binding. Interesting features for the Zn(II)-binding abilities of type 4 MTs are also reported, as their variable His content may be considered crucial for their biological performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1149-1164
JournalJournal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • Cadmium
  • Metal-His binding
  • Plant metallothionein
  • Sulphide ligands
  • Zinc


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