Background: With economic development, the amount of industrial wastewater discharged
with heavy metal ions increases, and heavy metal ion pollution in the environment worsens.
Currently, this environmental issue has attracted much attention triggering the development
and implication of pollutant binding- or degradation-related genes, especially in heavy metal ion
detoxification. Additionally, accumulative results have shown that natural ferritin could store multiple
toxic metal ions due to its great storage capacity, resulting in heavy metal detoxification in
Objective: In this study, the function of recombinant Phascolosoma esculenta ferritin as an efficient
heavy metal scavenger was investigated.
Method: In this study, a recombinant ferritin (rferritin) was purified. The structure and heavy metal
chelating capacity were examined via SEM, EDS, AFM and ICP-MS. The protection of rferritin on
heavy metal toxicity was identified via cell experiments.
Results: The rferritin was expressed by E. coli host. The surface morphology and nanoscale structure
of rferritin and human ferritin were changed after different heavy metal treatment, and similar
protein aggregates were observed under same heavy metal treatment. ICP-MS analysis revealed the
enrichment capacity of rferritin varied among different heavy metals and the cell experiments further
confirmed that rferritin could protect the bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells against heavy
Conclusion: The rferritin showed an excellent ability to enrich different heavy metals. The adsorption
process featured stability, a high yield, simple implementation and low-cost. Thus, the rferritin
shows significant potential in the manufacturing of drugs for heavy metal detoxification and environmental