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Biomolecules 2014, 4(2), 435-457; doi:10.3390/biom4020435

Metallothioneins, Unconventional Proteins from Unconventional Animals: A Long Journey from Nematodes to Mammals

Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, via Tolara di sopra, 50, Ozzano Emilia, Bologna 40064, Italy
This review is dedicated to Romano Viviani, our unforgettable mentor and leader.
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 January 2014 / Revised: 19 March 2014 / Accepted: 21 March 2014 / Published: 22 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metal Binding Proteins)
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Abstract

Metallothioneins (MTs) are ubiquitous low molecular weight cysteine-rich proteins characterized by high affinity for d10 electron configuration metals, including essential (Zn and Cu) and non-essential (Cd and Hg) trace elements. The biological role of these ancient and well-conserved multifunctional proteins has been debated since MTs were first discovered in 1957. Their main hypothesized functions are: (1) homeostasis of Zn and Cu; (2) detoxification of Cd, and Hg; and (3) free radical scavenging. This review will focus on MTs in unconventional animals, those not traditionally studied in veterinary medicine but of increasing interest in this field of research. Living in different environments, these animals represent an incredible source of physiological and biochemical adaptations still partly unexplored. The study of metal-MT interactions is of great interest for clinicians and researchers working in veterinary medicine, food quality and endangered species conservation.
Keywords: metallothioneins; isoforms; metals; nematodes; arthropods; mollusks; annelids echinoderms; vertebrates metallothioneins; isoforms; metals; nematodes; arthropods; mollusks; annelids echinoderms; vertebrates
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Isani, G.; Carpenè, E. Metallothioneins, Unconventional Proteins from Unconventional Animals: A Long Journey from Nematodes to Mammals. Biomolecules 2014, 4, 435-457.

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