Advertisement

Plasma zinc concentrations in snakes and other vertebrates correlate with specific zinc-binding plasma proteins

Authors

  • T. Cort,

    1. Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego La Jolla, California 92093–0322, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
    • *Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado 80309–0215, USA

  • J. Masuoka,

    1. Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego La Jolla, California 92093–0322, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • V. A. Lance,

    1. Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species, The Zoological Society of San Diego, P.O. Box 551, San Diego, California 92112, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • P. Saltman

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego La Jolla, California 92093–0322, USA
      †Address for correspondence
    Search for more papers by this author

†Address for correspondence

Abstract

We have demonstrated that snakes and some other reptiles normally possess high plasma zinc concentrations. These levels are similar to those measured in teleost fish. Plasma zinc levels in the range of snakes and teleosts have been shown to be toxic to crocodilians and mammals. Zinc has been shown to bind to a specific protein in albacore and winter flounder serum. Previous experiments suggested a similar protein in snake plasma. Western blot techniques were used to search for proteins capable of binding large quantities of zinc with high affinity in the plasma of a wide range of vertebrate species. These data were compared to plasma zinc concentrations measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. A correlation between high zinc levels and the presence of specific zinc-binding proteins different from mammalian albumin was observed. Snakes and teleost fish demonstrated both very high plasma zinc concentrations and a zinc-binding protein. Teleosts and snakes have significantly higher levels of plasma zinc than birds and mammals.

Ancillary