Activation of the complete mouse metallothionein gene locus in the maternal deciduum

Luchuan Liang, Kai Fu, Dae K. Lee, Rodney J. Sobieski, Tim Dalton, Glen K. Andrews

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51 Scopus citations


The mouse metallothionein (MT) gene family consists of four known members (MT-I through IV) clustered on chromosome 8. Studies reported herein examine the expression and regulation of the MT-III and MT-IV genes in specific cell types in the maternal reproductive tract, developing embryo, and fetus known to express the MT-I and -II genes. MT-III and MT-IV mRNAs were absent from the visceral yolk sac, placenta, and fetal liver, tissues with high levels of MT-I and MT-II mRNAs. In contrast, MT-III and MT-IV mRNAs were both abundant in the maternal deciduum, and in experimentally induced deciduoma on 7 and 8 days postcoitum (1 dpc = vaginal plug), as are MT-I and -II mRNAs. The abundance of each of these MT mRNAs increased coordinately during development of the deciduum (6-8 dpc), and in situ hybridization localized MT-I, MT-III, and MT-IV mRNAs to the secondary decidual zone of the antimesometrial region on 8 dpc, where in some regions all of the cells were apparently positive. Thus, all of the known mouse MT genes are co-expressed in at least some of the cells in the secondary decidual zone. Electrophoretic analysis of decidual MT suggested that the MT-I, -II, and -III isoforms are abundant proteins in the secondary deciduum. Bacterial endotoxin-lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and Zn are powerful inducers of MT-I and MT-II gene expression in many adult organs, whereas these agents apparently have little effect on MT-III and MT-IV gene expression. Neither of these agents significantly effected levels of decidual MT-III or MT-IV mRNAs in vivo or in primary cultures of decidual cells in vitro, and only modest effects of Zn on MT-I mRNA levels were noted. During 2 days of in vitro culture, decidual cell MT-I and MT-III mRNA levels remained elevated while MT-IV mRNA levels decreased. Thus, expression of the mouse MT gene locus in the deciduum appears to be developmentally regulated, and in this tissue, the MT genes are refractory to induction by Zn or inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996


  • Deciduum
  • Metallothionein-III
  • Metallothionein-IV
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive tract


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