Long-term cadmium exposure enhances metallothionein-1 induction after subsequent exposure to high concentrations of cadmium in P1798 mouse lymphosarcoma cells

Tomoki Kimura, Takuomi Hosaka, Tsuyoshi Nakanishi, Osamu Aozasa
Journal of Toxicological Sciences 2019, 44 (4): 309-316
Cadmium, a ubiquitous heavy metal, is a toxic industrial and environmental pollutant. The initial biological response to cadmium exposure is induction of metallothioneins (MTs), a family of cysteine-rich, low-molecular-weight proteins that bind primarily zinc, cadmium, or both. This MT induction protects against cadmium toxicity by quenching cadmium. However, the effects of long-term cadmium exposure on MT1 gene expression are largely unknown. To investigate these effects, we used P1798 mouse lymphosarcoma cells, in which the MT1 gene is suppressed. As previously reported, MT1 expression remained unchanged after cadmium treatment. However, MT1 induction was observed in cells treated with 0.1 µM cadmium for 7 days, then exposed to 10 µM cadmium for 3 hr. In cells treated with 0.1 µM cadmium for 7 days, the transfected MT1 promoter reporter gene transcription and the cadmium incorporation in response to 10 µM cadmium induction were similar to those in untreated P1798 cells. Bisulfite genomic sequencing revealed that 7 day treatment with 0.1 µM cadmium slightly decreased CpG methylation in the 5´ flanking region of the MT1 gene. Our results together show that cadmium treatment results in MT1 induction and epigenetic modification of the MT1 gene.

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