Spectroscopic characterization of metallothionein from the terrestrial snail, Helix pomatia

Dallinger,R.; Wang,Y.; Berger,B.; Mackay,E.A.; Kagi,J.H.
The Cd-sequestering metallothionein (MT) isoform isolated from the midgut gland of Roman snails exposed to Cd supplements in the feed was characterized by compositional and spectroscopic analysis. The preparations contained nearly 5 mol of Cd, small amounts of Cu and about 1 mol of Zn per chain mass of 6620 Da, in numerical agreement with the apoprotein's measured capacity of firmly binding a maximum of 6 equivalents of Cd per molecule. As with other Cd-containing MTs the occurrence of a prominent Cd-mercaptide-specific shoulder at 250 nm in its absorption spectrum showed that Cd is complexed in tetrahedral symmetry by the cysteine residues of the protein, and the multiphasic ellipticity profile in the CD spectrum revealed that these complexes are joined to form one or more oligonuclear Cd-mercapto clusters. Both spectral features vanished with the removal of the metal but were reconstituted to maximum amplitudes by readdition of Cd to the metal-free apoprotein, provided precautions were taken to prevent air oxidation of the latter. Quantitative analysis of snail MT reconstituted with Cd established that the 18 cysteine side chains bind the metal in a 3-to-1 ratio; spectroscopic studies on fractionally restored forms demonstrated that the six Cd ions were bound to the apoprotein molecule in succession in two sets of three Cd ions each. Thus, one can infer from the observed stoichiometry and the coordinating preferences of Cd that this gastropod MT, like the Cd-bearing MTs of marine crustaceans, harboured the metal in two separate cyclically constructed Cd3Cys9 clusters. The snail clusters differed, however, from other MTs in their response to acidification. Their protolytic dissociation proceeded through two separate protonation steps with the manifestation of spectroscopically distinguishable intermediate forms. Thus, this snail isoform displays in its metal composition and its chemical and spectroscopic features both similarities and differences to other animal kingdom MTs. Its properties suggest that it serves an important role in the protection of the terrestrial gastropod from Cd
Eur.J.Biochem. 2001 268(15):4126-4133
Tags: Austria; Cadmium; chemistry; Circular Dichroism; Copper; Hydrogen-Ion Concentration; Ions; metabolism; Metallothionein; Models,Chemical; Protein Isoforms; Snails; Spectrophotometry; Ultraviolet Rays; Zinc
PubMed: 11488904
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