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Biochemistry. 1994 Jun 14;33(23):7250-9.

Induction of a new metallothionein isoform (MT-IV) occurs during differentiation of stratified squamous epithelia.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


A new member of the metallothionein (MT) gene family was discovered that lies about 20 kb 5' of the MT-III gene in both mouse and human. The MT-IV proteins are highly conserved in both species and have a glutamate insertion at position 5 relative to the classical MT-I and MT-II proteins. Murine MT-IV mRNA appears to be expressed exclusively in stratified squamous epithelia associated with oral epithelia, esophagus, upper stomach, tail, footpads, and neonatal skin. The MT derived from tongue epithelium contains both zinc and copper. Many of these epithelia develop parakeratosis during zinc deficiency in the rat. In situ hybridization reveals intense labeling of MT-IV mRNA in the differentiating spinous layer of cornified epithelia, whereas MT-I is expressed predominantly in the basal, proliferative layer; thus, there is a switch in MT isoform synthesis during differentiation of these epithelia. We suggest that MT-IV plays a special role in regulating zinc metabolism during the differentiation of stratified epithelia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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