Metallothionein-3 (MT-3), also known as the neuronal growth inhibitory factor, has been discovered by Uchida and coworkers in 1991 in their search for a cellular component responsible for antagonizing aberrant neuritic sprouting and increased survival of cultured neurons stimulated by Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain extract. Since this initial
discovery further studies showed that MT-3 possesses peculiar structural and functional properties not shared by other members of the mammalian MT family. Several lines of evidence suggest that the metal-binding protein MT-3 plays a vital role in zinc and copper homeostasis in the brain. Although far from being understood, the unusual structural properties of MT-3 are responsible for its neuronal growth inhibitory activity, involvement in trafficking of zinc vesicles in the CNS, protection against copper-mediated toxicity in AD and in controlling abnormal metal-protein interactions in other neurodegenerative disorders.