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Localisation and expression of metallothionein immunoreactivity in the developing sheep brain

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 10:50 authored by Adele HollowayAdele Holloway, Fiona StennardFiona Stennard, Dziegielewska, KM, Weller, WL, Adrian WestAdrian West
Metallothioneins are small cysteine-rich proteins that bind heavy metals. In higher mammals there are complex families of metallothionein isoforms, which are well characterised at the DNA level but less so in terms of their cellular expression and function. In particular, little is known about the localisation of metallothionein in the developing mammalian brain. In this study, using sheep fetuses, we have shown that metallothionein 1 and 2 isoform expression undergoes shifts in regional and cellular localisation during development of the brain. Metallothionein 1 and 2 expression is first detected by embryonic days E72-E73 (gestation is 150 days) at the mRNA level and the metallothionein protein is observed in cells of the proliferating ventricular zones. Subsequent expression is detected in radial glial cells, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes in several regions of the brain, most notably the cerebral cortex. In the adult brain, metallothionein is expressed in astrocytes but not in oligodendrocytes. Double-labelling immunohistochemistry using the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), an astrocyte marker, and metallothionein revealed that although there is an overlap in the profiles of the two proteins, there is no simple correlation in their expression. These observations are consistent with metallothionein, under physiological conditions, being regulated mainly by intracellular factors.


Publication title

International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience








Tasmanian School of Medicine



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Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences

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