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Fish metallothionien gene expression: A good bio-indicator for assessment of heavy metal pollution in aquatic ecosystem

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Zoology and Environmental Science, Gurukula Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India and Department of Biotechnology, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • 2Department of Zoology and Environmental Science, Gurukula Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India
  • 3Department of Biotechnology, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

Int. Res. J. Environment Sci., Volume 6, Issue (7), Pages 58-62, July,22 (2017)


Metallothionein (MT) gene encodes metal regulatory proteins or metallothionien which regulate the heavy metal concentration in all vertebrates including fishes. These proteins have cysteine rich residues that bind with metal ions by metal-thiolate bonding and maintain homeostasis of metal ions in organisms. The different isoforms of MT have reported in all vertebrates as MT-1, MT-2, MT-3 and MT-4. MT-1 and MT-2 are well reported in fishes. The present manuscript reviews the expression and regulation of the gene encoding metal regulatory protein or metallothionien in fishes. The regulation of essential metals in fishes is maintained by the metal responsive element (MRE), which on binding with transcription factor-1 (MTF-1) starts the transcription and controls the expression of MT gene. Thus the expression level of metallothionein gene in the fishes can be used as a potential bio-indicator for assessment of heavy metal pollution in the aquatic system. It provides protection to the fishes from oxidative stress induces by metal ions and can also represent the stress condition of aquatic ecosystem due to heavy metal pollutants.


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