Standard Article


  1. Milan Vašák,
  2. Núria Romero-Isart

Published Online: 15 MAR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470862106.ia140

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Vašák, M. and Romero-Isart, N. 2006. Metallothioneins . Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2006


Metallothionein (MT) is a generic name for a superfamily of ubiquitous low molecular weight cysteine- and metal-rich proteins or polypeptides possessing sulfur-based metal clusters. In these compounds, clusters are usually formed through the preferential coordination of d10 metal ions by an array of closely spaced cysteine thiolate ligands. Their preservation in an increasing number of three-dimensional structures of these proteins signifies the importance of this structural motif. The versatile and striking chemical reactivity of clusters in MTs and their unprecedented dynamics make this class of proteins highly unusual. A primary role of MTs has not been identified, and remains elusive, as further functions continue to be discovered.


  • metallothionein;
  • metal-thiolate clusters;
  • d10 metal ions;
  • protein structure;
  • structure dynamics;
  • thiol reactivity;
  • metal binding;
  • spectroscopy