AbstractMetallothioneins (MT) constitute a wide well-defined group of low-molecular-weight cysteine-rich metal-binding proteins, which are totally atypical under a biological and a coordination chemical viewpoint. Their unusual high cysteine content allows these proteins to be considered responsible for metal homeostasis (Zn, Cu) and detoxification of toxic metal ions (Cd, Hg), free radicals and other electrophilic agents.
The main aim of this work is to analyse the coordination capability of mammalian MT, specifically that of recombinant mouse MT 1, in the presence of highly toxic chemical species such as Hg(II), MeHg+ and Pb(II).
The strategy followed consists of the spectropolarimetric (circular dichroism) and the spectrophotometric (UV-Visible) titrations of Zn7-MT with the above mentioned species together with a detailed analysis of the stoichiometry and the structural features of the successive species formed along the titration. In addition, we have studied the behaviour of the a and b fragments of MT in order to obtain complementary information and thus facilitate the interpretation of the results obtained with the entire protein. A thorough analysis of the effect of some variables, such as temperature, pH, stabilization time and counterions present in solution are fundamental for the study of the metal binding reactions in these systems.
We have shown that the previous variables determine the nature of the species formed along the titration. Thus, the stoichiometry and the structure of the species formed from Zn7-MT (pH 7) or apo-MT (pH 3) are highly dependent on the driving force (kinetic or thermodynamic) of the complexation reaction and strongly influenced by the counterion accompanying the metallic species (Cl- or ClO4-). On the other hand, the coordination of Pb(II) to MT affords formation of a single specie in a wide pH range (7 - 4.5) the structure of which depends on the stabilization time. The study of the behaviour of MT and its corresponding a and b fragments in the presence of MeHg+ is pioneer in the field and reveals that the coordination of MeHg+ to MT entails the unfolding of the protein.
All the results obtained allow conclusion that mammalian MT 1 binds Hg(II), MeHg+ and Pb(II) very efficiently and in this sense it could be used as a heavy metal detoxification agent.
|Date of Award||1 Mar 2002|
|Supervisor||Maria Merce Capdevila Vidal (Director) & Pilar González Duarte (Director)|