Transcriptional induction of the mouse metallothionein-I gene in hydrogen peroxide-treated Hepa cells involves a composite major late transcription factor/antioxidant response element and metal response promoter elements

Nucleic Acids Res. 1994 Nov 25;22(23):5016-23. doi: 10.1093/nar/22.23.5016.


Synthesis of metallothionein-I (MT-I) and heme oxygenase mRNAs is rapidly and transiently induced by H2O2 in mouse hepatoma cells (Hepa) and this effect is blocked by catalase. Menadione, which generates free radicals, also induces these mRNAs. Deletion mutagenesis revealed that a region between -42 and -153 in the mouse MT-I promoter was essential for induction of a CAT reporter gene. A multimer of a 16 bp sequence (-101 to -86) that includes an antioxidant response element and overlapping adenovirus major late transcription factor binding site elevated basal expression and allowed induction by H2O2 when inserted upstream of a minimal promoter. However, deletion of this region (-100 to -89) from the intact MT-I promoter (-153) did not completely eliminate response. Multiple copies of a metal response element also permitted response to H2O2. These results suggest that induction of MT-I gene transcription by H2O2 is mediated by at least two different elements within the proximal MT-I gene promoter and suggest a previously undescribed function of the MRE. Induction of MT gene transcription by ROS and the subsequent scavenging of ROS by the MT peptide is reminiscent of the metal regulatory loop and is consistent with the hypothesized protective functions of MT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Base Sequence
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular
  • Chlorides / pharmacology
  • Consensus Sequence
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing) / genetics
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology*
  • Metallothionein / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Sequence Deletion / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Viral Proteins
  • Vitamin K / pharmacology
  • Zinc Compounds / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Chlorides
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MLTF protein, adenovirus
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Viral Proteins
  • Zinc Compounds
  • Vitamin K
  • zinc chloride
  • Metallothionein
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing)