Identification of a metallothionein gene in honey bee Apis mellifera and its expression profile in response to Cd, Cu and Pb exposure.
Nikolić, Tatjana V.
Ćelić, Anđelka S.
Plavša, Jovana J.
Petri, Edward T.
Article (Published version)
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
MetadataShow full item record
Metallothioneins are ubiquitous proteins important in metal homeostasis and detoxification. However, they have not previously been identified in honey bees or other Hymenoptera, where metallothioneins could be of ecophysiological and ecotoxicological significance. Better understanding of the molecular responses to stress induced by toxic metals could contribute to honey bee conservation. In addition, honey bee metallothionein could represent a biomarker for monitoring environmental quality. Here we identify and characterize a metallothionein gene in Apis mellifera (AmMT). AmMT is 1,680 bp long and encodes a 48 amino acids protein with 15 cysteines and no aromatic residues. A metal response element upstream of the start codon, coupled with numerous cis-regulatory elements indicate the functional context of AmMT. Molecular modelling predicts several transition metal binding sites, and comparative phylogenetic analysis revealed five putative metallothionein proteins in three other hymenoptera species. AmMT was characterized by cloning the full-length coding sequence of the putative metallothionein. Recombinant AmMT was found to increase metal tolerance upon overexpression in Escherichia coli supplemented with Cd, Cu or Pb. Finally, in laboratory tests on honey bees, gene expression profiles showed a dose-dependant relationship between Cd, Cu and Pb concentrations present in food and AmMT expression, while field experiments showed induction of AmMT in bees from an industrial site compared to those from an urban area. These studies suggest that AmMT has metal binding properties in agreement with a possible role in metal homeostasis. Further functional and structural characterization of metallothionein in honey bees and other Hymenoptera are necessary.
Keywords:Cloning; Honey bees; Hymenoptera; Metal binding; Metallothionein; qPCR
Source:Molecular Ecology, 2019, 28, 4, 731-745