The anomalous scattering data from five Cd in the native protein were used to determine the crystal structure of cadmium, zinc (Cd,Zn) metallothionein isoform II from rat liver. The structure of a 4-Cd cluster was solved by direct methods. A 2.3 A resolution electron density map was calculated by iterative single-wavelength anomalous scattering. The structure is folded into two domains. The amino terminal domain (beta) of residues 1 to 29 enfolds a three-metal cluster of one Cd and two Zn atoms coordinated by six terminal cysteine thiolate ligands and three bridging cysteine thiolates. The carboxyl terminal domain (alpha) of residues 30 to 61 enfolds a 4-Cd cluster coordinated by six terminal and five bridging cysteine thiolates. All seven metal sites have tetrahedral coordination geometry. The domains are roughly spherical, and the diameter is 15 to 20 A; there is limited contact between domains. The folding of alpha and beta is topologically similar but with opposite chirality. Redundant, short cysteine-containing sequences have similar roles in cluster formation in both alpha and beta.

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