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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Dec 8;351(1):229-33. Epub 2006 Oct 12.

Cadmium binding studies to the earthworm Lumbricus rubellus metallothionein by electrospray mass spectrometry and circular dichroism spectroscopy.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ont., Canada N6A 5B7.


The earthworm Lumbricus rubellus has been found to inhabit cadmium-rich soils and accumulate cadmium within its tissues. Two metallothionein (MT) isoforms (1 and 2) have been identified and cloned from L. rubellus. In this study, we address the metalation status, metal coordination, and structure of recombinant MT-2 from L. rubellus using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), UV absorption, and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy. This is the first study to show the detailed mass and CD spectral properties for the important cadmium-containing earthworm MT. We report that the 20-cysteine L. rubellus MT-2 binds seven Cd(2+) ions. UV absorption and CD spectroscopy and ESI-MS pH titrations show a distinct biphasic demetalation reaction, which we propose results from the presence of two metal-thiolate binding domains. We propose stoichiometries of Cd(3)Cys(9) and Cd(4)Cys(11) based on the presence of 20 cysteines split into two isolated regions of the sequence with 11 cysteines in the N-terminal and 9 cysteines in the C-terminal. The CD spectrum reported is distinctly different from any other metallothionein known suggesting quite different binding site structure for the peptide.

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