Journal of biosciences

Effects of gamma-ray-induced free radicals on the metal content and amino acid composition of human metallothionein-1.

PMID 21654078


Metallothioneins (MTs), a low-mass class of metalloproteins, are characterized by a high thiolate sulphur and metal content. MTs are involved in metal homeostasis and heavy metal detoxification, and are efficient scavengers of free radicals. This article describes zinc release from human MT-1 and modification of its amino acid composition when subjected to free radicals generated during gamma ray radiolysis. The effect of gamma ray radiolysis of untreated and metal-depleted human MT-1 was tested under multiple aerobic and anaerobic conditions at increasing irradiation doses. Under all conditions, a rapid increase of serine in the early stages of irradiation was observed. Irradiation for longer times led to cysteic acid formation, except under argon atmosphere. Several other amino acid concentrations gradually decreased. Formation of limited amounts of hydroxyproline, hydroxylysine and ornithine as well as some less common derivatives such as cystathionine occurred as side-effects.