Supplementary Material for: Expression, Regulation and Function of Human Metallothioneins in Endothelial Cells

Metallothioneins (MTs) are small cysteine-rich proteins which are involved in e.g. metal homeostasis, metal detoxification and protection against oxidative stress. In addition, several MTs have been shown to regulate expression of proangiogenic growth factors like vascular endothelial growth factor. Detailed information about the expression and regulation of specific MT isoforms in endothelial cells (EC) is limited. We therefore performed extensive mRNA expression profiling of all known human MTs in EC. We found that the basal endothelial expression is restricted to MT1E, MT1X, MT2A, and MT3. Physiological activation of EC by exposure to serum increased the expression of MT1E and MT2A and induced the expression of MT1M. Furthermore, exposure to zinc or copper induced the expression of most MT1 isoforms, while hypoxia specifically increased the expression of MT1E, MT1M, MT1X, and MT3. Finally, knockdown of the dominant MT isoform in EC, i.e. MT2A, resulted in decreased proliferation and sprouting as well as in increased migration of human umbilical vein EC. Together, these findings provide a link between MTs and angiogenesis.