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Gene. 1989 Nov 15;83(1):85-93.

Endogenous and heavy-metal-ion-induced metallothionein gene expression in salmonid tissues and cell lines.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Canada.


Endogenous levels of metallothionein (MT) mRNA were detected by RNA probes in several somatic and germ-line tissues of rainbow trout, such as eggs, ovaries and immature testis. These levels may be related to metal-ion homeostasis in the observed tissues. The induction kinetics of trout MT isoform B (MT-B) mRNA were studied after single intraperitoneal injections of CdCl2, CuCl2 and ZnCl2. MT-B mRNA was induced within 12 h in liver, kidney, spleen and gills. However, over the 48-h experimental period, the kinetics of MT-B mRNA accumulation differed in response to the three metal salts, possibly due to differential handling of the salts by these tissues. Multiple metal-salt injections induced high levels of MT-B mRNA in the four tissues studied. In the rainbow trout hepatoma cell line, ZnCl2 was a better inducer of the MT-B gene, as compared to CdCl2 and CuCl2. The expression of the exogenous trout MT-B promoter in Chinook salmon embryonic cell line indicates the presence of MT regulatory factors. In contrast, the endogenous MT genes in these cells are quiescent, possibly due to the methylation of their promoter region.

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