, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 2383-2393
Date: 17 Nov 2010

Cloning, characterization, expression, and copper sensitivity of the metallothionein-1 gene in the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis

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A full-length metallothionein-1(MT-1) cDNA was cloned from the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, based upon the hepatopancreas cDNA library. The full-length cDNA contained a single 180 bp open reading frame that encoded a 59 amino acid protein. The deduced amino acid sequence was cysteine (Cys)-rich, with residues observed in patterns characteristic of other reported MTs: Cys–X–Cys, Cys–X–X–Cys, or Cys–X–X–X–Cys. Gene structure obtained via PCR yielded a 3816 bp gene, which was comprised of three exons and two introns arranged in a “3 + 2” pattern. The cloned 5′flanking region (1,735 bp) contained several predicted binding sites, which included MREs, AP-1, SP1, USF, GATA, HNF-1, and HSF. MT-1 mRNA expression analysis revealed that while levels were highest in the hepatopancreas, expression was abundant in testis and thoracic ganglia, moderate in intestine (P < 0.05), and weak in other tissues (P < 0.05). MT-1 mRNA expression exhibited reproductive variation in the male, with levels approximately tenfold greater in August, during seasonal gonadal maturation, compared to other times of the year. Cu2+ exposure via tank water (0–1 mg/l for 7 days) resulted in a dose-dependent bell curve response in MT-1 mRNA expression, with peak expression observed after exposure to 0.1 mg/l Cu2+. A time course experiment (0.1 mg/l Cu2+ over 9 days) revealed MT-1 mRNA expression peaked sharply on day 5 before gradually decreasing with prolonged exposure. In the present report, we provide sequence analysis of the first MT-1 gene cloned in E. sinensis, and evidence that its physiological and toxicological regulation is evolutionary conserved.

Fei Ren and Hui Jiang contributed equally to this work.