ZnT5 variant B is a bidirectional zinc transporter and mediates zinc uptake in human intestinal Caco-2 cells

Ruth A. Valentine*, Kelly A. Jackson, Graham R. Christie, John C. Mathers, Peter M. Taylor, Dianne Ford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)
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Zinc is an essential micronutrient, so it is important to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of zinc homeostasis, including the functional properties of zinc transporters. Mammalian zinc transporters are classified in two major families: the SLC30 (ZnT) family and the SLC39 family. The prevailing view is that SLC30 family transporters function to reduce cytosolic zinc concentration, either through efflux across the plasma membrane or through sequestration in intracellular compartments, and that SLC39 family transporters function in the opposite direction to increase cytosolic zinc concentration. We demonstrated that human ZnT5 variant B (ZnT5B (hZTL1)), an isoform expressed at the plasma membrane, operates in both the uptake and the efflux directions when expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. We measured increased activity of the zinc-responsive metallothionein 2a (MT2a) promoter when ZnT5b was coexpressed with an MT2a promoter-reporter plasmid construct in human intestinal Caco-2 cells, indicating increased total intracellular zinc concentration. Increased cytoplasmic zinc concentration mediated by ZnT5B, in the absence of effects on intracellular zinc sequestration by the Golgi apparatus or endoplasmic reticulum, was also confirmed by a dramatically enhanced signal from the zinc fluorophore Rhodzin-3 throughout the cytoplasm of Caco-2 cells overexpressing ZnT5B at the plasma membrane when compared with control cells. Our findings demonstrate clearly that, in addition to mediating zinc efflux, ZnT5B at the plasma membrane can function to increase cytoplasmic zinc concentration, thus indicating a need to reevaluate the current paradigm that SLC30 family zinc transporters operate exclusively to decrease cytosolic zinc concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14389-14393
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


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