Animal tolerance to the transition metals cadmium and zinc is hereditary. The evolution to a high level of resistance can be accelerated through mutation and selective pressure. We have studied inbred strains of mice and mutants of Chinese hamster ovary cells resistant to cadmium to further these understandings. Results with whole animals show that the difference in the rate and level of metallothionein accumulation is at most twofold between sensitive and resistant strains. However, with cadmium resistant CHO mutant cells, there is an over 60 fold increase in metallothionein and its mRNA upon induction. These mutants show over 60 fold amplification in metallothionein genes. These results offer a direct contrast in the correlation between elevation of metal resistance and increases in metallothionein between two genetic systems.
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