Springer

Metal detoxification and homeostasis in Antarctic Notothenioids. A comparative survey on evolution, expression and functional properties of fish and mammal metallothioneins

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Organisms from yeast to mammals contain cysteine-rich, heavy metal binding proteins termed metallothioneins. The putative roles of these proteins are trace metal homeostasis and detoxification of poisonous heavy metals. The highly conserved chemical composition and the structural constraints led to the conclusion that metallothioneins of different origin must display remarkably similar features. The present review aims at surveying the studies carried out on the
metallothioneins of Antarctic Notothenioidei, a dominating fish group endowed of a number of striking adaptive characters, including reduced (or absent) hematocrit and presence of antifreeze glycoproteins. Given the unique peculiarities of the Antarctic environment, a comparative study of the features of notothenioid metallothioneins could provide new insights into the role of these proteins in physiology and toxicology. The results summarized here show that the metallothioneins of this fish group display a number of features at the level of evolution, expression pattern, structure
and function remarkably different from those of mammal metallothioneins.

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