Eukaryotic zinc transporters and their regulation
- Cite this article as:
- Gaither, L.A. & Eide, D.J. Biometals (2001) 14: 251. doi:10.1023/A:1012988914300
The last ten years have witnessed major advances in our understanding of zinc transporters and their regulation in eukaryotic organisms. Two families of transporters, the ZIP (Zrt-, Irt-like Protein) and CDF (Cation Diffusion Facilitator) families, have been found to play a number of important roles in zinc transport. These are ancient gene families that span all phylogenetic levels. The characterized members of each group have been implicated in the transport of metal ions, frequently zinc, across lipid bilayer membranes. This remarkable conservation of function suggests that other, as yet uncharacterized members of the family, will also be involved in metal ion transport. Many of the ZIP family transporters are involved in cellular zinc uptake and at least one member, the Zrt3 transporter of S. cerevisiae, transports stored zinc out of an intracellular compartment during adaptation to zinc deficiency. In contrast, CDF family members mediate zinc efflux out of cells or facilitate zinc transport into intracellular compartments for detoxification and/or storage. The activity of many of these transporters is regulated in response to zinc through transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms to maintain zinc homeostasis at both the cellular and organismal levels.