A low-molecular-weight protein, zinc-thionein, a metallothionein, was implicated as having a regulatory function in zinc metabolism. The half-life (t1/2) of hepatic zinc-thionein was determined by pulse-labelling with either L-[35S] cystine and/or 65Zn. In two experiments with L-[35S]cystine, the t1/2 of zinc-thionein was 18h and 19h. Most of the soluble 35S-labelled hepatic proteins had a t1/2 of 4 days. The t1/2 of zinc-thionein calculated by using 65Zn was 20h. The close similarity between the calculated and measured t 1/2 values for zinc-thionein suggests that release of Zn2+ from zinc-thionein probably occurs simultaneously with degradation of the protein moiety.

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