Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Enigmatic Metallothioneins: A Case of Upward-Looking Research

Version 1 : Received: 27 February 2021 / Approved: 2 March 2021 / Online: 2 March 2021 (09:39:39 CET)

How to cite: Abdin, A.Y.; Jacob, C.; Kästner, L. The Enigmatic Metallothioneins: A Case of Upward-Looking Research. Preprints 2021, 2021030059 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202103.0059.v1). Abdin, A.Y.; Jacob, C.; Kästner, L. The Enigmatic Metallothioneins: A Case of Upward-Looking Research. Preprints 2021, 2021030059 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202103.0059.v1).

Abstract

In the mid-1950s, Bert L. Vallee and his colleague Marvin Margoshes discovered a molecule known today as metallothionein (MT). Meanwhile MTs have been shown to be common in many biological organisms. Despite their prevalence, however, it remains unclear to date what exactly MTs do and how they contribute to the biological function of an organism or organ. Honoring Dr. Vallee’s sometimes innovative approach to research, this contribution sets out to show how philosophy of science can help us gain a clearer picture of biochemical research. We shall look into both the discovery of as well as recent research on Dr. Vallee’s beloved family of MT proteins to illustrate (i) how exploratory and upward-looking research play important roles in biochemical discoveries although they do not fit the paradigmatic approach of decomposition and struc-ture-function mapping. Besides, we shall suggest (ii) that while other biochemical molecules ex-hibit a clearly identifiable function, other research hypotheses might be worthy of pursuit in the case of MTs.

Subject Areas

Metallothionein (MT); Scientific discovery; Scientific pursuit; Research strategies; upward looking research; Exploratory research; Protein function; Compensation; Moonlighting; multifunctional proteins; Vestiges

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