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Metallothionein-a cDna in Alpine Arctic Char (Salvelinus Alpinus): Notes On Metal Tolerance and Relationships To Other Salmonids1

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) is a relatively metal-tolerant fish species, which under chronic conditions can accumulate high concentrations of Cd and (Cd)-metallothionein (MT) in the liver. In contrast, other salmonid fish such as rainbow trout (Oncnrhynchus mykiss) have been characterized as Cd-sensitive. In order to test the hypothesis that there is a structural basis for Cd tolerance in arctic char, the MT-A cDNA of this species was decoded by RACE PCR and cloning, and compared with MT cDNAs available from other salmonid species, as well as from pike (Esox lucius). The cDNA sequence of MT-A from arctic char elucidated in the present study differs significantly in its 5'-noncoding region from that of another MT-A cDNA variant of the same species available from GenBank, suggesting differential splicing or processing of MT-A mRNA among the two variants. Apart from this difference in the non-coding region, all MT-A cDNA sequences of salmonids available up to date are identical in their coding region. cDNA coding sequences of MT-B are somewhat more variable among salmonid species than those of MT-A, but still display a high degree of conservation. A phylogenetic analysis revealed close evolutionary relationships among separately clustering MT-A and MT-B isoforms in salmonids. This strong evolutionary conservation of coding regions in cDNA of both salmonid MT isoforms excludes the possibility that structural differences in expressed proteins could be the reason for interspecific differences in cadmium handling and sensitivity in salmonid species.

Affiliations: 1: Institut für Zoologie und Limnologie, Abteilung Okophysiologie, Universität Innsbruck, Technikerstrasse 25, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria


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