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Yakugaku Zasshi. 2007 Apr;127(4):709-17.

[Analysis of toxicity using metallothionein knockout mice].

[Article in Japanese]

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  • 1Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Health Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Aichi Gakuin University, Nagoya, Japan.


Two research groups produced metallothionein (MT)-I/II knockout mice with null mutation of MT-I and MT-II genes. In 1993, Choo et al. produced MT-I/II knockout mice with a mixed genetic background of 129 Ola and C57BL/6 strains. Palmiter et al. also produced MT-I/II knockout mice with a genetic background of 129/Sv strain in 1994. Subsequently, MT-I/II knockout mice have been used to clarify the biological function and physiological role of MT by many research groups. We were also provided MT-I/II knockout mice from Dr. Choo (Australia). F1 hybrid mice were mated with C57BL/6, and their offspring were back-crossed to C57BL/6 for ten generations. MT-I/II knockout (MT(-/-)) mice and wild-type (MT(+/+)) mice were obtained by mating of those heterozygous (MT(+/-)) mice. We have been investigating the susceptibility of MT-I/II knockout mice to toxicity of harmful factors and some diseases. Our present studies found that MT-I/II knockout mice have an increased sensitivity to harmful metals such as cadmium, mercury, and arsenic, oxidative stress, chemical carcinogenesis and neurodegenerative diseases. These results clearly indicate that MT plays an important role in defense of these toxicities. In this review, we present our findings and summarize recent reports with MT-I/II knockout mice concerning the role of MT as a biological protective factor.

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