Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 64, Issue 8, pp 639–643 | Cite as

Interaction of methylmercury compounds with albumin

  • Akira Yasutake
  • Kimiko Hirayama
  • Masayasu Inoue
Original Investigations


The nature of interaction between bovine serum albumin (BSA) and methylmercurial compounds has been investigated by ultrafiltration analysis. Four types of BSA samples, mercaptalbumin, its mixed disulfides with glutathione (GSH) andl-cysteine (CySH), and the S-carbami-domethylated derivative, were used for binding assays with methylmercury (MM) chloride (MMC) and three kinds of MM mercaptides of low molecular weight thiols, GSH (GS-MM), CySH (CyS-MM) and cysteinylglycine (CG-MM). Among various ligands tested, MMC showed the highest affinity for all BSA species, and the BSA-bound fraction of the ligand did not change with ligand/protein ratio. MMC strongly and stoichiometrically bound to mercaptalbumin even at a molar ratio of 1∶1. In contrast, the albumin bound fractions of three other MM ligands increased with concomitant decrease in ligand/protein ratio and with time except for the alkylated albumin, the highest binding being shown by mercaptalbumin. Binding of S-2-nitrophenyl-glutathione, a GSH analog with a hydrophobic S-substituent, to albumin species occurred similarly to that of GS-MM. However, GSH and oxidized glutathione (GSSG) interacted differently with albumin; mercaptalbumin showed the lowest affinity for GSH, and GSSG scarcely interacted with all BSA species. These results suggest that the sulfhydryl group at Cys-34 is not the only site of BSA that interacts with MM compounds and that albumin interacts preferentially with the hydrophobic domains of a mercurial ligand rather than its hydrophilic peptide moiety.

Key words

Methylmercury Bovine serum albumin Mercaptide Glutathione Mixed disulfide 





cysteine-mixed disulfide of albumin


glutathione-mixed disulfide of albumin




S-methylmercury cysteinylglycine


S-methylmercury cysteine


S-methylmercury glutathione


S-o-nitrophenyl glutathione




methylmercury chloride


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akira Yasutake
    • 1
  • Kimiko Hirayama
    • 2
  • Masayasu Inoue
    • 3
  1. 1.Biochemistry SectionNational Institute for Minamata DiseaseKumamoto
  2. 2.Kumamoto University College of Medical ScienceKumamoto
  3. 3.Department of BiochemistryKumamoto University Medical SchoolKumamotoJapan

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