Lay summary
Metals are essential for life but depending on the concentration and sortof metal ion they can also exhibit a considerable amount of toxicity.Metallothionein (MT) is one of the fascinating molecules that bind metalions within the cells. Generally, metallothioneins are a family of smallmetalloproteins with an outstanding high cysteine and d10 metal ioncontent. MTs play a role in the homeostasis of essential metal ions, mostnotably Zn(II) and Cu(I), and the detoxification of heavy metals, such asCd(II) or Hg(II). Additionally, participation in gene regulation isdiscussed. MTs occur in nearly all kingdoms of life, but little is knownabout the plant isoforms. In the scope of this project, thethree-dimensional structure of plant MTs and their spectroscopic featureswill be elucidated, a key factor in understanding their function. Withthis new knowledge it might be possible to genetically optimize metalbinding properties or even metal ion specificity of this proteins. Suchmodified plants might be able to grow in polluted areas or even might beused to remove specific heavy metals from the environment(phytoremidation), especially from mining areas and land used by heavymetal releasing manufacturing industry.