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Gene Review

MTF1  -  metal-regulatory transcription factor 1

Homo sapiens

Synonyms: MRE-binding transcription factor, MTF-1, Metal regulatory transcription factor 1, Transcription factor MTF-1, ZRF
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Disease relevance of MTF1

  • Stable cell lines overexpressing variable levels of MTF1, the key transactivator of the MT genes, demonstrated differential resistance toward the inhibitory effect of Cr6+, indicating MTF1 as a target of chromium toxicity [1].

High impact information on MTF1

  • The combined use of MREd mutants in a transient assay in HeLa cells and a competition band shift assay show that the zinc-inducible formation of the MTF-1/DNA complex in vitro correlates with zinc-inducible transcription in vivo [2].
  • This is explained by the preferential binding of cadmium or copper to metallothionein or its oxidation by H2O2; the concomitant release of zinc in turn leads to the activation of transcription factor MTF-1 [3].
  • The fusion protein consisting of a Gal-4 DNA binding domain and one or more of the three transactivation domains of MTF1, namely the acidic domain, proline-rich domain, and serine-threonine rich domain, activated the GAL-4-driven luciferase gene to different degrees, but all were sensitive to Cr6+ [1].
  • The heavy metal-induced expression of another MTF1 target gene, zinc transporter 1 (ZnT-1), was also down-regulated by Cr6+ [1].
  • The basal and inducible binding of MTF1 to metal response elements was not affected by treatment of cells with Cr6+ [1].

Biological context of MTF1

  • Transient transfection studies showed that the ability of MTF1 to transactivate the MT-I promoter was significantly compromised by Cr6+ [1].
  • MTF1 null cells were prone to apoptosis after exposure to Zn2+ or Cd2+ that was augmented in presence Cr6+, whereas the onset of apoptosis was significantly delayed in cells overexpressing MTF1 [1].
  • There was deviation from the expected pattern of transmission for polymorphisms in MTF1 (Single nucleotide polymorphism database reference identification number, dbSNP rs3790625, P = .02) and divalent metal ion transporter SLC11A3 (dbSNP rs2304704, P = .07) genes [4].
  • MTF-1 contains a consensus nuclear localization signal located just N-terminal to the first zinc finger that contributes to but is not essential for nuclear import [5].
  • Under resting conditions, the nuclear export signal is required for cytoplasmic localization of MTF-1 as indicated by mutational analysis and transfer to the heterologous green fluorescent protein [5].

Anatomical context of MTF1

  • This gene induction was mediated by the sequestration of zinc in the cytosol, which up-regulated the metal-responsive transcription factor-1 (MTF-1) that induced MT gene expression [6].
  • These results indicate that MTF-1 is particularly important for proper hepatocyte proliferation [7].

Associations of MTF1 with chemical compounds

  • The robust induction of metallothionein-I and II (MT-I and MT-II) genes by several heavy metals such as zinc and cadmium requires the specific transcription factor metal-responsive transcription factor 1 (MTF1) [1].
  • MTF-1 also harbors a leucine-rich, nuclear export signal [5].
  • Our results further show that in addition to the heavy metals zinc and cadmium, heat shock, hydrogen peroxide, low extracellular pH (pH 6.0), inhibition of protein synthesis by cycloheximide, and serum induce nuclear accumulation of MTF-1 [5].
  • We concluded that genistin and genistin glycosides have a direct antioxidant effect and an indirect antioxidant effect, perhaps via induction of MT by activity of MTF-1 [6].

Regulatory relationships of MTF1

  • Additionally, the induction of MT by SNP after zinc pretreatment appears to be mediated by metal-activated transcription factor-1 (MTF-1), which is induced by labile zinc in the cytosol [8].
  • Zinc has been shown to modify specifically the metabolism of cGMP, the activities of protein kinase C and mitogen activated protein kinases, and the activity of transcription factor MTF-1 which controls the transcription of the genes for metallothionein and the zinc transporter ZnT-1 [9].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of MTF1


  1. Chromium(VI) down-regulates heavy metal-induced metallothionein gene transcription by modifying transactivation potential of the key transcription factor, metal-responsive transcription factor 1. Majumder, S., Ghoshal, K., Summers, D., Bai, S., Datta, J., Jacob, S.T. J. Biol. Chem. (2003) [Pubmed]
  2. A zinc-responsive factor interacts with a metal-regulated enhancer element (MRE) of the mouse metallothionein-I gene. Westin, G., Schaffner, W. EMBO J. (1988) [Pubmed]
  3. Activity of metal-responsive transcription factor 1 by toxic heavy metals and H2O2 in vitro is modulated by metallothionein. Zhang, B., Georgiev, O., Hagmann, M., Günes, C., Cramer, M., Faller, P., Vasák, M., Schaffner, W. Mol. Cell. Biol. (2003) [Pubmed]
  4. Polymorphisms in xenobiotic metabolism genes and autism. Serajee, F.J., Nabi, R., Zhong, H., Huq, M. J. Child Neurol. (2004) [Pubmed]
  5. Nucleo-cytoplasmic trafficking of metal-regulatory transcription factor 1 is regulated by diverse stress signals. Saydam, N., Georgiev, O., Nakano, M.Y., Greber, U.F., Schaffner, W. J. Biol. Chem. (2001) [Pubmed]
  6. Water-soluble genistin glycoside isoflavones up-regulate antioxidant metallothionein expression and scavenge free radicals. Chung, M.J., Kang, A.Y., Lee, K.M., Oh, E., Jun, H.J., Kim, S.Y., Auh, J.H., Moon, T.W., Lee, S.J., Park, K.H. J. Agric. Food Chem. (2006) [Pubmed]
  7. Role of metal-responsive transcription factor-1 (MTF-1) in EGF-dependent DNA synthesis in primary hepatocytes. Kimura, T., Itoh, N., Sone, T., Kondoh, M., Tanaka, K., Isobe, M. J. Cell. Biochem. (2006) [Pubmed]
  8. Cytotoxicity of nitric oxide is alleviated by zinc-mediated expression of antioxidant genes. Chung, M.J., Hogstrand, C., Lee, S.J. Exp. Biol. Med. (Maywood) (2006) [Pubmed]
  9. Functions of zinc in signaling, proliferation and differentiation of mammalian cells. Beyersmann, D., Haase, H. Biometals (2001) [Pubmed]
  10. Metal-responsive transcription factor (MTF-1) and heavy metal stress response in Drosophila and mammalian cells: a functional comparison. Balamurugan, K., Egli, D., Selvaraj, A., Zhang, B., Georgiev, O., Schaffner, W. Biol. Chem. (2004) [Pubmed]
  11. Negative regulatory role of Sp1 in metal responsive element-mediated transcriptional activation. Ogra, Y., Suzuki, K., Gong, P., Otsuka, F., Koizumi, S. J. Biol. Chem. (2001) [Pubmed]
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