Metallothionein (MT)-III, a member of the MT family of metal-binding proteins, is mainly expressed in the CNS and is abundant in glutamatergic neurons. Results in genetically altered mice indicate that MT-III may play neuroprotective roles in the brain, but the mechanisms through which this protein functions have not been elucidated. The aim of this work was to assess whether MT-III is able to prevent glutamate neurotoxicity and to identify the step of the neurotoxic process interfered with by MT-III. Glutamate neurotoxicity in cerebellar neurons in culture is mediated by excessive activation of glutamate receptors, increased intracellular calcium, and increased nitric oxide. It is shown that MT-III prevented glutamate- and nitric oxide-induced neurotoxicity in a dose-dependent manner, with nearly complete protection at 0.3-1 μg/ml. MT-III did not prevent the glutamate- induced rise of intracellular calcium level but reduced significantly the nitric oxide-induced formation of cyclic GMP. Circular dichroism analysis revealed that nitric oxide triggers the release of the metals coordinated to the cysteine residues of MT-III, indicative of the S(Cys)-nitrosylation of the protein. Therefore, the present results indicate that MT-III can quench pathological levels of nitric oxide, thus preventing glutamate and nitric oxide neurotoxicity.
|Journal||Journal of Neurochemistry|
|Publication status||Published - 11 Jul 2000|
- Cyclic GMP
- Nitric oxide