Transcriptional responses of metallothionein gene to different stress factors in Pacific abalone (Haliotis discus hannai)

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Abstract

A novel metallothionein (MT) gene from the Pacific abalone H. discus hannai was characterized and its mRNA expression patterns (tissue distribution, developmental expression and differential expression in responsive to various in vivo stimulatory treatments) were examined. Abalone MT shares conserved structural features with previously known gastropod orthologs at both genomic (i.e., tripartite organization) and amino acid (conserved Cys motifs) levels. The 5′-flanking regulatory region of abalone MT gene displayed various transcription factor binding motifs particularly including ones related with metal regulation and stress/immune responses. Tissue distribution and basal expression patterns of MT mRNAs indicated a potential association between ovarian MT expression and sexual maturation. Developmental expression pattern suggested the maternal contribution of MT mRNAs to embryonic and early larval developments. Abalone MT mRNAs could be significantly induced by various heavy metals in different tissues (gill, hepatopancreas, muscle and hemocyte) in a tissue- and/or metal-dependent fashion. In addition, the abalone MT gene was highly modulated in responsive to other non-metal, stimulatory treatments such as immune challenge (LPS, polyI:C and bacterial injections), hypoxia (decrease from normoxia 8 ppm–2 ppm), thermal elevation (increase from 20 °C to 30 °C), and xenobiotic exposure (250 ppb of 17α-ethynylestradiol and 0.25 ppb of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin) where differential expression patterns were toward either up- or down-regulation depending on types of stimulations and tissues examined. Taken together, our results highlight that MT is a multifunctional effector playing in wide criteria of cellular pathways especially associated with development and stress responses in this abalone species.

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