Mammalian Metallothionein-3: New Functional and Structural Insights
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Metallothionein-3 (MT-3), a member of the mammalian metallothionein (MT) family, is mainly expressed in the central nervous system (CNS). MT-3 possesses a unique neuronal growth inhibitory activity, and the levels of this intra- and extracellularly occurring metalloprotein are markedly diminished in the brain of patients affected by a number of metal-linked neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). In these pathologies, the redox cycling of copper, accompanied by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), plays a key role in the neuronal toxicity. Although MT-3 shares the metal-thiolate clusters with the well-characterized MT-1 and MT-2, it shows distinct biological, structural and chemical properties. Owing to its anti-oxidant properties and modulator function not only for Zn, but also for Cu in the extra- and intracellular space, MT-3, but not MT-1/MT-2, protects neuronal cells from the toxicity of various Cu(II)-bound amyloids. In recent years, the roles of zinc dynamics and MT-3 function in neurodegeneration are slowly emerging. This short review focuses on the recent developments regarding the chemistry and biology of MT-3.