Fourteen members of the SIc39a superfamily of metal ion uptake transporters have been identified in mice and humans., but the physiological functions of most remain obscure. Herein, we created mice with Zip2 (Slc39a2) genes in which the open reading frame was replaced with that of the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), to study temporal and spatial patterns of Zip2 gene expression and examine the physiological roles of this transporter. Expression of this gene was remarkably cell-type specific and developmentally regulated in pericentral hepatocytes, developing keratinocytes, and a subset of immature dendritic cells in the immune system. In addition, the Zip2 gene was transiently expressed in giant trophoblast cells in the placenta. Although the Zip2 gene was not essential under conditions of normal dietary zinc, it played an important role in adapting to dietary zinc deficiency during pregnancy, and in the homeostasis of iron in the liver as well as iron and calcium in developing embryos. These studies suggest that active expression of the Zip2 gene in these few specific cell types, aforementioned, plays a particularly important role during zinc deficiency. These studies further reveal novel interactions between zinc transporter function and the homeostasis of other essential metals.
- zinc homeostasis
- transporter expression