Regulation in vitro of metallothionein gene binding factors

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Science  13 Mar 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4794, pp. 1383-1387
DOI: 10.1126/science.3103216


Mouse nuclear factors that bind to an upstream metal regulatory element of the mouse metallothionein-I gene have been identified by DNA footprinting and oligonucleotide band shift assays. The formation of complexes at this site can be activated 20- to 40-fold by the vitro addition of ionic cadmium. The activation reaction is rapid, reversible by a metal chelator, and may involve multiple proteins. These results suggest that the initial step in cadmium detoxification is an interaction between the metal and nuclear DNA-binding factors leading to an increase in metallothionein gene transcription. The ability to observe metal activation in vitro makes this a powerful system to study the biochemistry of eukaryotic gene regulation.