Next Article in Journal
Ultra-Structural Imaging Provides 3D Organization of 46 Chromosomes of a Human Lymphocyte Prophase Nucleus
Next Article in Special Issue
Bert Vallee—A 20th Century Adventure(r) in Zincology
Previous Article in Journal
Computational-Driven Epitope Verification and Affinity Maturation of TLR4-Targeting Antibodies
Previous Article in Special Issue
Probing the Structure and Function of the Cytosolic Domain of the Human Zinc Transporter ZnT8 with Nickel(II) Ions
Hypothesis

The Enigmatic Metallothioneins: A Case of Upward-Looking Research

1
Division of Bioorganic Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Saarland University, D-66123 Saarbruecken, Germany
2
Univ. Lille, CNRS, Centrale Lille, Univ. Artois, UMR 8181–UCCS–Unité de Catalyse et Chimie du Solide, F-59000 Lille, France
3
Institute of Philosophy, Saarland University, D-66123 Saarbruecken, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Reinhard Dallinger
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(11), 5984; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22115984
Received: 8 April 2021 / Revised: 5 May 2021 / Accepted: 26 May 2021 / Published: 1 June 2021
In the mid-1950s, Bert Lester Vallee and his colleague Marvin Margoshes discovered a molecule referred to today as metallothionein (MT). Meanwhile, MTs have been shown to be common in many biological organisms. Despite their prevalence, however, it remains unclear to date what exactly MTs do and how they contribute to the biological function of an organism or organ. We investigate why biochemical research has not yet been able to pinpoint the function(s) of MTs. We shall systematically examine both the discovery of and recent research on Dr. Vallee’s beloved family of MT proteins utilizing tools from philosophy of science. Our analysis highlights that Vallee’s initial work exhibited features prototypical of a developing research tradition: it was upward-looking, exploratory, and utilized mere interactions. Since the 1960s, MT research has increasingly become intervention- and hypothesis-based while it remained largely upward-looking in character. Whilst there is no reason to think that upward-looking research cannot successfully yield structure-function mappings, it has not yet been successful in the case of MTs. Thus, we suggest it might be time to change track and consider other research strategies looking into the evolution of MTs. Recent studies in mollusks render research in this direction worthy of pursuit. View Full-Text
Keywords: exaptation; exploratory research; compensation; convergent evolution; metallothionein (MT); moonlighting; multiple realization; protein function; research strategies; scientific discovery; scientific pursuit; upward-looking research; vestiges exaptation; exploratory research; compensation; convergent evolution; metallothionein (MT); moonlighting; multiple realization; protein function; research strategies; scientific discovery; scientific pursuit; upward-looking research; vestiges
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Abdin, A.Y.; Jacob, C.; Kästner, L. The Enigmatic Metallothioneins: A Case of Upward-Looking Research. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22, 5984. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22115984

AMA Style

Abdin AY, Jacob C, Kästner L. The Enigmatic Metallothioneins: A Case of Upward-Looking Research. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021; 22(11):5984. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22115984

Chicago/Turabian Style

Abdin, Ahmad Y., Claus Jacob, and Lena Kästner. 2021. "The Enigmatic Metallothioneins: A Case of Upward-Looking Research" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 22, no. 11: 5984. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22115984

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop