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J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2009 Oct 15;877(28):3378-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2009.06.014. Epub 2009 Jun 13.

Fluorescent probes for the structure and function of metallothionein.

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Departments of Preventive Medicine & Community Health and Anesthesiology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-1109, USA.


Fluorescence methods have been instrumental in demonstrating that the structure of human metallothionein in vivo depends on the availability of metal ions and the redox environment. Differential chemical modifications of its cysteine thiols with fluorescent probes allowed determination of three states: metallothionein (zinc-bound thiolate), thionein (free thiols), and thionin (disulfides). Interrogation of its zinc-binding properties with fluorescent chelating agents revealed that the affinities for the seven zinc ions vary over four orders of magnitude. Attachment of fluorescent labels generated metallothionein FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) sensors for investigating its structure and function in living cells.

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