The ability to mount adaptive immune responses to vaccinations and viral infections declines with increasing age. To identify mechanisms leading to immunosenescence, primary CD4 T cell responses were examined in 60- to 75-year-old individuals lacking overt functional defects. Transcriptome analysis indicated a selective defect in zinc homeostasis. CD4 T cell activation was associated with zinc influx via the zinc transporter Zip6, leading to increased free cytoplasmic zinc and activation of negative feedback loops, including the induction of zinc-binding metallothioneins. In young adults, activation-induced cytoplasmic zinc concentrations declined after 2 days to below prestimulation levels. In contrast, activated naïve CD4 T cells from older individuals failed to downregulate cytoplasmic zinc, resulting in excessive induction of metallothioneins. Activation-induced metallothioneins regulated the redox state in activated T cells and accounted for an increased proliferation of old CD4 T cells, suggesting that regulation of T cell zinc homeostasis functions as a compensatory mechanism to preserve the replicative potential of naïve CD4 T cells with age.
Zinc is essential for the activities of pancreatic β-cells, especially insulin storage and secretion. Insulin secretion leads to co-release of zinc which contributes to the paracrine communication in the pancreatic islets. Zinc-transporting proteins (zinc-regulated transporter, iron-regulated transporter-like proteins [ZIPs] and zinc transporters [ZnTs]) and metal-buffering proteins (metallothioneins, MTs) tightly regulate intracellular zinc homeostasis. The present study investigated how modulation of cellular zinc availability affects β-cell function using INS-1E cells.
Using INS-1E cells, we found that zinc supplementation and zinc chelation had significant effects on insulin content and insulin secretion. Supplemental zinc within the physiological concentration range induced insulin secretion. Insulin content was reduced by zinc chelation with N,N,N’,N-tektrakis(2-pyridylmethyl)-ethylenediamine. The changes in intracellular insulin content following exposure to various concentrations of zinc were reflected by changes in the expression patterns of MT-1A, ZnT-8, ZnT-5, and ZnT-3. Furthermore, high zinc concentrations induced cell necrosis while zinc chelation induced apoptosis. Finally, cell proliferation was sensitive to changes in zinc the concentration.
These results indicate that the β-cell-like function and survival of INS-1E cells are dependent on the surrounding zinc concentrations. Our results suggest that regulation of zinc homeostasis could represent a pharmacological target.
Zinc; Insulin; Zinc transporter; Metallothionein; Chelation; TPEN; INS-1E cells; β –cell; Diabetes
Mycobacterium tuberculosis thrives within macrophages by residing in phagosomes and preventing them from maturing and fusing with lysosomes. A parallel transcriptional survey of intracellular mycobacteria and their host macrophages revealed signatures of heavy metal poisoning. In particular, mycobacterial genes encoding heavy metal efflux P-type ATPases CtpC, CtpG, and CtpV, and host cell metallothioneins and zinc exporter ZnT1, were induced during infection. Consistent with this pattern of gene modulation, we observed a burst of free zinc inside macrophages, and intraphagosomal zinc accumulation within a few hours postinfection. Zinc exposure led to rapid CtpC induction, and ctpC deficiency caused zinc retention within the mycobacterial cytoplasm, leading to impaired intracellular growth of the bacilli. Thus, the use of P1-type ATPases represents a M. tuberculosis strategy to neutralize the toxic effects of zinc in macrophages. We propose that heavy metal toxicity and its counteraction might represent yet another chapter in the host-microbe arms race.
► Zinc accumulates in the M. tuberculosis (Mtb) phagosome in macrophages (Mϕ) ► Mtb P1-type ATPases, including CtpC, are induced upon exposure to zinc inside Mϕ ► CtpC enables Mtb resistance to zinc poisoning and intracellular survival in Mϕ ► P1-type zinc efflux ATPase ZntA null E. coli is highly susceptible to Mϕ killing
Metallothioneins are small, cysteine-rich proteins that avidly bind heavy metals such as zinc, copper, and cadmium to reduce their concentration to a physiological or nontoxic level. Metallothionein gene transcription is induced by several stimuli, notably heavy metal load and oxidative stress. Transcriptional induction of metallothionein genes is mediated by the metal-responsive transcription factor 1 (MTF-1), an essential zinc finger protein that binds to specific DNA motifs termed metal-response elements. In cell-free DNA binding reactions with nuclear extracts, MTF-1 requires elevated zinc concentrations for efficient DNA binding but paradoxically is inactivated by other in vivo inducers such as cadmium, copper, and hydrogen peroxide. Here we have developed a cell-free, MTF-1-dependent transcription system which accurately reproduces the activation of metallothionein gene promoters not only by zinc but also by these other inducers. We found that while transcriptional induction by zinc can be achieved by elevated zinc concentration alone, induction by cadmium, copper, or H2O2 additionally requires the presence of zinc-saturated metallothionein. This is explained by the preferential binding of cadmium or copper to metallothionein or its oxidation by H2O2; the concomitant release of zinc in turn leads to the activation of transcription factor MTF-1. Conversely, thionein, the metal-free form of metallothionein, inhibits activation of MTF-1. The release of zinc from cellular components, including metallothioneins, and the sequestration of zinc by newly produced apometallothionein might be a basic mechanism to regulate MTF-1 activity upon cellular stress.
Zinc enhances TCR signaling in part by inhibiting Shp-1 recruitment to the TCR synapse.
Zinc is a trace element that is essential for innate and adaptive immune responses. In addition to being a structural element of many proteins, zinc also functions as a neurotransmitter and an intracellular messenger. Temporal or spatial changes in bioavailable zinc may influence the activity of several enzymes, including kinases and phosphatases. We provide evidence that zinc functions as an ionic signaling molecule after T cell activation. Cytoplasmic zinc concentrations increased within 1 min after T cell receptor (TCR) triggering, in particular in the subsynaptic compartment. The increase depended on the extracellular zinc concentrations and was inhibited by silencing zinc transporter Zip6. Increased zinc influx reduced the recruitment of SHP-1 to the TCR activation complex, augmented ZAP70 phosphorylation and sustained calcium influx. By calibrating TCR activation thresholds, increased extracellular zinc bioavailability facilitated the induction of T cell proliferative responses to suboptimal stimuli.
We have demonstrated that zinc exposure induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells (PC-3) and benign hyperplasia cells (BPH), but not in normal prostate cells (HPR-1). However, the mechanisms underlying the effects of zinc on prostate cancer cell growth and zinc homeostasis remain unclear.
To explore the zinc effect on gene expression profiles in normal (HPR-1) and malignant prostate cells (PC-3), we conducted a time course study of Zn treatment with microarray analysis. Microarray data were evaluated and profiled using computational approach for the primary and secondary data analyses. Final analyses were focused on the genes: 1. highly sensitive to zinc, 2. associated with zinc homeostasis, i.e. metallothioneins (MTs), solute zinc carriers (ZIPs) and zinc exporters (ZnTs), 3. relevant to several oncogenic pathways. Zinc-mediated mRNA levels of MT isotypes were further validated by semi-quantitative RT-PCR.
Results showed that zinc effect on genome-wide expression patterns was cell type specific, and zinc appeared to have mainly down-regulatory effects on thousands of genes (1,953 in HPR-1; 3,534 in PC-3) with a threshold of ±2.5-fold, while fewer genes were up-regulated (872 in HPR-1; 571 in PC-3). The patterns of zinc effect on functional MT genes’ expression provided evidence for the cell-type dependent zinc accumulation and zinc-induced apoptosis in prostate cells. In PC-3 cells, zinc significantly up-regulated the expression of MT-1 isotypes -J and -M, denoted previously as “non-functional” MT genes, and now a depictive molecular structure of MT-1J was proposed. Examination of genes involved in oncogenic pathways indicated that certain genes, e.g. Fos, Akt1, Jak3 and PI3K were highly regulated by zinc with cell type specificity.
This work provided an extensive database on zinc related prostate cancer research. The strategy of data analysis was devoted to find genes highly sensitive to Zn, and the genes associated with zinc accumulation and zinc-induced apoptosis. The results indicate that zinc regulation of gene expression is cell-type specific, and MT genes play important roles in prostate malignancy.
microarray; zinc; prostate malignant cells; gene isoform; metallothionein; zinc transporter
The trace element zinc is essential for the immune system, and zinc deficiency affects multiple aspects of innate and adaptive immunity. There are remarkable parallels in the immunological changes during aging and zinc deficiency, including a reduction in the activity of the thymus and thymic hormones, a shift of the T helper cell balance toward T helper type 2 cells, decreased response to vaccination, and impaired functions of innate immune cells. Many studies confirm a decline of zinc levels with age. Most of these studies do not classify the majority of elderly as zinc deficient, but even marginal zinc deprivation can affect immune function. Consequently, oral zinc supplementation demonstrates the potential to improve immunity and efficiently downregulates chronic inflammatory responses in the elderly. These data indicate that a wide prevalence of marginal zinc deficiency in elderly people may contribute to immunosenescence.
The zinc finger protein, metal response element-binding transcription factor-1 (MTF-1) regulates the expression of genes in response to metal ions and oxidative stress. The precise mechanisms by which this occurs are not understood. To further examine this problem, mouse MTF-1 was expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and tested for the ability to activate metal response element-driven reporter gene expression. Zinc was an effective inducer of reporter gene expression. In general, the magnitude of zinc induction was dependent on the concentration of zinc in the culture medium, but independent of the amount of MTF-1 expression. Zinc induction also occurred with either integrated or episomal reporter plasmids containing the native mouse metallothionein-I proximal promoter. Deletion of fingers 5 and 6 of MTF-1, which function in a zinc-dependent manner to stabilize the DNA-binding activity of the protein in vitro, did not diminish the zinc induction of either episomal or integrated promoters. However, a Gal4 DNA-binding domain– MTF-1 fusion protein, which binds constitutively to the Gal4-responsive promoter, was not zinc inducible but caused constitutive activation of reporter gene expression. This suggests that zinc activation of the DNA-binding activity of MTF-1 is the rate limiting step in its metalloregulatory function in yeast. In contrast, MTF-1 was not responsive to either cadmium or hydrogen peroxide, suggesting that distinct co-activators or signal transduction cascades not found in yeast are required to mediate MTF-1 activation of gene expression by this toxic metal and by oxidative stress.
We examined the chromatin structure of the rat metallothionein I gene, both in uninduced cells and in cells induced by heavy metals or dexamethasone, using hypersensitivity to DNase I as an assay. The metallothionein I gene of the H4IIE rat hepatoma cell line, expressed at basal level, has a single DNase I-hypersensitive site. This site maps between putative hormone and basal level control sequences. Induction of the gene by cadmium or zinc resulted in the appearance of a new hypersensitive site near the start site of transcription, in a region near the metal-regulatory elements. In contrast, induction of the metallothionein I gene by dexamethasone did not alter the basal pattern of hypersensitivity. Thus, different mechanisms of induction of metallothionein transcription lead to distinct alterations in the chromatin containing the 5' sequences regulating the expression of this gene.
Menkes kinky hair syndrome is an X-linked neurodegenerative disorder, causing tissue-specific increases in copper and metallothionein content. A mouse model is provided by hemizygotes for mutant alleles at the X-linked mottled locus. Herein we test the possibility that the primary defect in both species is in metallothionein gene regulation. We show that metallothionein-I messenger RNA (mRNA) (mouse) and metallothionein-II mRNA (human) are elevated in mutant fibroblasts. However, comparable dose-response curves in mutant and control cells are generated when mouse metallothionein-I mRNA concentrations are measured in cells exposed to varying concentrations of cadmium or copper (metallothionein inducers). Furthermore, when mutant and control cells are grown to achieve overlapping intracellular copper concentrations in the two cell types, metallothionein-I (mouse) and metallothionein-II (human) mRNA levels are proportional to the intracellular copper concentrations. Finally, in paired determinations in blotchy hemizygote and littermate kidneys containing comparable copper levels, metallothionein-I mRNA contents are very similar. The observations suggest that elevated intracellular copper in these mutants induces metallothionein synthesis by normal regulatory mechanisms.
Dietary zinc deficiency in mice is accompanied by enhanced expression of the zinc uptake transporter Slc39a4 (Zip4) and repressed expression of Slc39a5 (Zip5) in tissues which regulate zinc homeostasis (intestine, pancreas and visceral yolk sac). Herein, mechanisms controlling this differential expression were investigated. The induction of Zip4 mRNA during zinc deficiency, and its repression in response to zinc repletion were found to reflect changes in Zip4 mRNA stability and not changes in the relative rate of transcription of this gene. During zinc deficiency, ZIP4 protein levels are increased and this protein is localized on the apical membranes. Administration of an oral gavage of zinc caused ZIP4 internalization and degradation in enterocytes and visceral endoderm cells. Similarly, ZIP4 is induced by zinc deficiency in cultured mouse Hepa cells and is rapidly degraded in response to added zinc. Zip5 mRNA abundance does not change in response to zinc, but the translation of this mRNA was found to be zinc-responsive. During zinc deficiency, Zip5 mRNA remains associated with polysomes, while the protein is internalized and degraded in enterocytes, acinar cells and endoderm cells. After zinc-gavage, ZIP5 is rapidly resynthesized and targeted to the basolateral membranes of these cell types.
mRNA stability; post-transcriptional; protein stability; Slc39a4; Slc39a5; ZIP
Metal-responsive transcription factor 1 (MTF-1) mediates both basal and heavy metal-induced transcription of metallothionein genes and also regulates other genes involved in the cell stress response and in metal homeostasis. In resting cells, MTF-1 localizes to both the cytoplasm and the nucleus but quantitatively accumulates in the nucleus upon metal load and under other stress conditions. Here we show that within the DNA-binding domain, a region spanning zinc fingers 1 to 3 (amino acids [aa] 137 to 228 in human MTF-1) harbors a nonconventional nuclear localization signal. This protein segment confers constitutive nuclear localization to a cytoplasmic marker protein. The deletion of the three zinc fingers impairs nuclear localization. The export of MTF-1 to the cytoplasm is controlled by a classical nuclear export signal (NES) embedded in the acidic activation domain. We show that this activation domain confers metal inducibility in distinct cell types when fused to a heterologous DNA-binding domain. Furthermore, the cause of a previously described stronger inducibility of human versus mouse MTF-1 could be narrowed down to a 3-aa difference in the NES; “humanizing” mouse MTF-1 at these three positions enhanced its metal inducibility to the level of human MTF-1.
Glutamatergic neurons contain free zinc packaged into neurotransmitter-loaded synaptic vesicles. Upon neuronal activation, the vesicular contents are released into the synaptic space, whereby the zinc modulates activity of postsynaptic neurons though interactions with receptors, transporters and exchangers. However, high extracellular concentrations of zinc trigger seizures and are neurotoxic if substantial amounts of zinc re-enter the cells via ion channels and accumulate in the cytoplasm. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a secreted serine protease, is also pro-epileptic and excitotoxic. However, tPA counters zinc toxicity by promoting zinc import back into the neurons in a sequestered form that is non-toxic. Here, we identify the zinc influx transporter, ZIP4, as the pathway through which tPA mediates the zinc uptake. We show that ZIP4 is upregulated after excitotoxin stimulation of the mouse, male and female, hippocampus. ZIP4 physically interacts with tPA, correlating with an increased intracellular zinc influx and lysosomal sequestration. Changes in pro-survival signals support the idea that this sequestration results in neuroprotection. These experiments identify a mechanism via which neurons use tPA to efficiently neutralize the toxic effects of excessive concentrations of free zinc.
Zinc dyshomeostasis has been recognized as an important mechanism for cell death in acute brain injury. An increase in the level of free or histochemically reactive zinc in astrocytes and neurons is considered one of the major causes of death of these cells in ischemia and trauma. Although zinc dyshomeostasis can lead to cell death via diverse routes, the major pathway appears to involve oxidative stress.
Recently, we found that a rise of zinc in autophagic vacuoles, including autolysosomes, is a prerequisite for lysosomal membrane permeabilization and cell death in cultured brain cells exposed to oxidative stress conditions. The source of zinc in this process is likely redox-sensitive zinc-binding proteins such as metallothioneins, which release zinc under oxidative conditions. Of the metallothioneins, metallothionein-3 is especially enriched in the central nervous system, but its physiologic role in this tissue is not well established. Like other metallothioneins, metallothionein-3 may function as metal detoxicant, but is also known to inhibit neurite outgrowth and, sometimes, promote neuronal death, likely by serving as a source of toxic zinc release. In addition, metallothionein-3 regulates lysosomal functions. In the absence of metallothionein-3, there are changes in lysosome-associated membrane protein-1 and -2, and reductions in certain lysosomal enzymes that result in decreased autophagic flux. This may have dual effects on cell survival. In acute oxidative injury, zinc dyshomeostasis and lysosomal membrane permeabilization are diminished in metallothionein-3 null cells, resulting in less cell death. But over the longer term, diminished lysosomal function may lead to the accumulation of abnormal proteins and cause cytotoxicity.
The roles of zinc and metallothionein-3 in autophagy and/or lysosomal function have just begun to be investigated. In light of evidence that autophagy and lysosomes may play significant roles in the pathogenesis of various neurological diseases, further insight into the contribution of zinc dynamics and metallothionein-3 function may help provide ways to effectively regulate these processes in brain cells.
To identify those metallothionein and α-crystallin/small heat-shock genes induced by toxic metals in human lens cells and to evaluate the levels of these metals between young and aged human lenses.
Human SRA01/04 and primary human lens epithelial cells were cultured and exposed to Cd2+, Cu2+, and Zn2+. The levels of lens metallothioneins (Ig, If, Ih, Ie, and IIa) and α-crystallin/small heat-shock (αA-crystallin, αB-crystallin, and HSP27) genes were analyzed by semiquantitative and quantitative competitive RT-PCR. The content of aluminum, cadmium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, nickel, potassium, sodium, and zinc in young (mean, 32.8 years), middle-aged (mean, 52.3 years), and old (mean, 70.5 years) human lenses was analyzed by inductively coupled plasma-emission spectroscopy.
Lens metallothioneins (Ig, If, Ih, Ie, and IIa) and α-crystallin/small heat-shock genes (αA-crystallin, αB-crystallin, and HSP27) were differentially induced by specific metals in SRA01/04 human lens epithelial cells. Cd2+ and Zn2+, but not Cu2+, induced the metallothioneins, whereas Cd2+ and Cu2+, but not Zn2+, induced αB-crystallin and HSP27. αA-crystallin was induced by Cu2+ only. Similar responses of the metallothionein IIa gene were detected in identically treated primary human lens epithelial cells. Cd2+ and Zn2+ induced metallothionein IIa to five times higher levels than metallothionein Ig. Of 13 different metals, only iron was altered, exhibiting an 81% decrease in old versus young lenses.
Induction of metallothioneins and α-crystallin/small heat shock proteins by different metals indicates the presence of metal-specific lens regulatory pathways that are likely to be involved in protection against metal-associated stresses.
The robust induction of metallothionein-I and II (MT-I and MT-II) genes by several heavy metals such as zinc and cadmium requires the specific transcription factor metal-responsive transcription factor 1 (MTF1). Chromium (VI), a major environmental carcinogen, not only failed to activate these genes but also inhibited their induction by Zn2+ or Cd2+. The heavy metal-induced expression of another MTF1 target gene, zinc transporter 1 (ZnT-1), was also down-regulated by Cr6+. By contrast, the expression of two MTF1-independent Cd2+-inducible genes, heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and HSP-70, was not sensitive to Cr6+. Cr6+ did not also affect the expression of housekeeping genes such as GAPDH or β-actin. Stable cell lines overexpressing variable levels of MTF1, the key transactivator of the MT genes, demonstrated differential resistance toward the inhibitory effect of Cr6+, indicating MTF1 as a target of chromium toxicity. The basal and inducible binding of MTF1 to metal response elements was not affected by treatment of cells with Cr6+. Transient transfection studies showed that the ability of MTF1 to transactivate the MT-I promoter was significantly compromised by Cr6+. The fusion protein consisting of a Gal-4 DNA binding domain and one or more of the three transactivation domains of MTF1, namely the acidic domain, proline-rich domain, and serine-threonine rich domain, activated the GAL-4-driven luciferase gene to different degrees, but all were sensitive to Cr6+. MTF1 null cells were prone to apoptosis after exposure to Zn2+ or Cd2+ that was augmented in presence Cr6+, whereas the onset of apoptosis was significantly delayed in cells overexpressing MTF1.
Metallothionein is an integral component of the mechanism that regulates the metabolism of cadmium and zinc. The synthesis of this protein can be "induced" by oral or parenteral administration of either metal. The metallothionein mRNA content of liver polysomes is increased shortly after an influx of small amounts of either metal into hepatocytes. After sufficient amounts of this poly (A+) RNA have been synthesized, there is a concomitant increase in metallothionein biosynthesis and metal binding. Unlike synthesis, the degradation of metallothionein is markedly influenced by the species of metal bound. By using in vivo and in vitro techniques, it has been possible to demonstrate that resistance of metallothionein to degradation follows the order: thionein less than zinc metallothionein less than cadmium metallothionein. Moreover, while the polypeptide chains of cadmium metallothionein are degraded, it appears that liberated cadmium ions are quickly incorporated into nascent chains of thionein. The latter explains why the cadmium content of liver and kidney increases with age and environmental exposure. Since both zinc and cadmium bind to metallothionein, it appears that the binding sites provided by this inducible species provide a locus for interaction between zinc, a nutrient, and cadmium, an environmental contaminant.
Metallothioneins (MTs) are small cysteine-rich proteins that bind heavy metal ions such as zinc, cadmium and copper with high affinity, and have been functionally implicated in heavy metal detoxification and radical scavenging. Transcription of metallothioneins genes is induced by exposure of cells to heavy metals. This induction is mediated by metal-responsive promoter elements (MREs). We have previously cloned the cDNA of an MRE-binding transcription factor (MTF-1) from the mouse. Here we present the human cDNA equivalent of this metal-regulatory factor. Human MTF-1 is a protein of 753 amino acids with 93% amino acid sequence identity to mouse MTF-1 and has an extension of 78 amino acids at the C-terminus without counterpart in the mouse. The factors of both species have the same overall structure including six zinc fingers in the DNA binding domain. We have physically mapped the human MTF-1 gene to human chromosome 1 where it localizes to the short arm in the region 1p32-34, most likely 1p33. Both human and mouse MTF-1 when produced in transfected mammalian cells strongly bind to a consensus MRE of metallothionein promoters. However, human MTF-1 is more effective than the mouse MTF-1 clone in mediating zinc-induced transcription.
Zinc, a redox inactive metal, has been long viewed as a component of the antioxidant network, and growing evidence points to its involvement in redox-regulated signaling. These actions are exerted through several mechanisms based on the unique chemical and functional properties of zinc. Overall, zinc contributes to maintain the cell redox balance through different mechanisms including: i) the regulation of oxidant production and metal-induced oxidative damage; ii) the dynamic association of zinc with sulfur in protein cysteine clusters, from which the metal can be released by nitric oxide, peroxides, oxidized glutathione and other thiol oxidant species; iii) zinc-mediated induction of the zinc-binding protein metallothionein, which releases the metal under oxidative conditions and act per se scavenging oxidants; iv) the involvement of zinc in the regulation of glutathione metabolism and of the overall protein thiol redox status; and v) a direct or indirect regulation of redox signaling. Findings of oxidative stress, altered redox signaling, and associated cell/tissue disfunction in cell and animal models of zinc deficiency, stress the relevant role of zinc in the preservation of cell redox homeostasis. However, while the participation of zinc in antioxidant protection, redox sensing, and redox-regulated signaling is accepted, the involved molecules, targets and mechanisms are still partially known and the subject of active research.
Dietary supplementation with zinc has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of diarrhoeal disease caused by Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, common in infants in developing countries. Initially this therapeutic benefit was attributed to the correction of zinc deficiency in malnourished individuals, but recently evidence has emerged that zinc significantly impacts the pathogens themselves: zinc concentrations achievable by oral supplementation can reduce the expression of key virulence-related genes in EPEC and related organisms.
Here, we investigate three possible mechanisms for such zinc-induced changes in expression of EPEC virulence: direct interaction of zinc with regulators of LEE operons; genetic interaction of LEE operons with known regulators of zinc homeostasis; and finally, downregulation of LEE transcription associated with activation of the σEenvelope stress response by zinc. We find evidence only for the latter mechanism, including zinc-induced down-regulation of type III secretion in EPEC similar to that caused by ammonium metavanadate, another known inducer of the σEstress response.
We conclude therefore that envelope stress is a major mechanism by which zinc attenuates the virulence of EPEC and related pathogens.
Genes involved in normal developmental processes attract attention as mediators of tumour progression as they facilitate migration of tumour cells. EMT (epithelial–mesenchymal transition), an essential part of embryonic development, tissue remodelling and wound repair, is crucial for tumour metastasis. Previously, zinc transporter ZIP6 [SLC39A6; solute carrier family 39 (zinc transporter), member 6; also known as LIV-1) was linked to EMT in zebrafish gastrulation through a STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) mechanism, resulting in nuclear localization of transcription factor Snail. In the present study, we show that zinc transporter ZIP6 is transcriptionally induced by STAT3 and unprecedented among zinc transporters, and is activated by N-terminal cleavage which triggers ZIP6 plasma membrane location and zinc influx. This zinc influx inactivates GSK-3β (glycogen synthase kinase 3β), either indirectly or directly via Akt or GSK-3β respectively, resulting in activation of Snail, which remains in the nucleus and acts as a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin (epithelial cadherin), CDH1, causing cell rounding and detachment. This was mirrored by ZIP6-transfected cells which underwent EMT, detached from monolayers and exhibited resistance to anoikis by their ability to continue proliferating even after detachment. Our results indicate a causative role for ZIP6 in cell motility and migration, providing ZIP6 as a new target for prediction of clinical cancer spread and also suggesting a ZIP6-dependent mechanism of tumour metastasis.
We demonstrate a novel mechanism for the ability of cellular zinc to drive cell detachment and migration with implications for breast cancer spread. This mechanism involves a zinc uptake channel ZIP6 (also known as SLC39A6) and a transcription factor, STAT3.
breast cancer; cell detachment; epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT); LIV-1; signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3); solute carrier family 39; member 6 (SLC39A6); ZIP6; CHO, Chinese-hamster ovary; CT, threshold cycle value; E-cadherin, epithelial cadherin; EGF, epidermal growth factor; ELP2, elongation protein 2; EMT, epithelial–mesenchymal transition; ER, oestrogen receptor; FAS, fulvestrant; GSK, glycogen synthase kinase; qPCR, quantitative real-time PCR; SC, cytoplasmic loop between TM3 and TM4; SLC39, solute carrier family 39; STAT3, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3; STATIP1, STAT3-interacting protein 1; TAM, 4-hydroxytamoxifen; TGF, transforming growth factor; TM, transmembrane; β-TrCP, β-transducing repeat-containing protein; ZIP, Zrt- and Irt-like proteins
With advancing age, thymic efficiency shows progressive decline due to thymic involution allowing impaired cell-mediated immunity and the appearance of age-related diseases. The intrinsic cause of thymic involution is still undefined. Chronic inflammation and high glucocorticoids (GCs) may be involved. However, transgenic mice, with increased GC sensitivity and over expression of GC receptors, display delayed age-associated thymic involution. This fact suggests that other substances may affect thymic involution. Among them, both isoforms of metallothioneins (MTs) I+II and III are the major candidates because their increments leads to organ atrophy in constant stress and are induced by IL-6, which increases in ageing. Enhanced MTs in ageing allows constant sequester of zinc ions and no subsequent zinc release leading to low zinc ion bioavailability for thymic efficiency. This sequester is very limited in very old age. Thus, we have investigated the MTmRNA (I+II and III) in the thymus from young, old and very old mice.
MTmRNA and IL-6mRNA (RT-PCR) in the thymus from different donors were tested. Concomitantly, TECs proliferation, zinc ion bioavailability (ratio total thymulin/active thymulin), thymulin activity and corticosterone were tested from different donors.
Both isoforms of MTmRNA and IL-6mRNA increase in old thymus coupled with low zinc ion bioavailability, reduced TECs proliferation, impaired thymulin activity and enhanced plasma corticosterone in comparison with young. Conversely, although the thymus is involuted in very old mice because of no changes in thymus weight in comparison to old mice, reduced MTmRNA, especially MT-I+II isoforms, and low IL6mRNA occur. Concomitantly, good zinc ion bioavailability, maintained TECs proliferation, satisfactory thymulin activity and reduced corticosterone are observed in very old mice.
The concomitant increments by high IL-6 of both MT isoforms in the thymus from old mice may be involved in thymic involution because provoking low zinc ion bioavailability, which is relevant for thymic efficiency. By contrast, the limited increments of MTs by low IL-6 induce good zinc ion bioavailability and satisfactory thymic efficiency in very old mice. Therefore, abnormal increased MTs may provoke complete thymic involution during ageing and the possible appearance of age-related diseases. If their increments are instead limited by low inflammation, healthy ageing and longevity may be reached.
Thymic involution; Metallothioneins; IL-6; glucocorticoids; zinc; TECs; inflammation; ageing; longevity
During the initial 4 h of treatment, copper and zinc similarly activated the rates of transcription and mRNA accumulation from the two human metallothionein (MT) genes, viz., MTI-G and MTII-A, in the hepatoblastoma cell line HepG2. The levels of copper-induced MT mRNAs remained at a plateau for up to 15 h. In contrast, the levels of zinc-induced MT mRNAs gradually declined after about 4 h, despite substantial transcription. The decrease in the zinc-induced MT mRNA half-life is probably due to a posttranscriptional event(s).
Zinc is an essential trace element in cells. However, its high level in cytoplasm promotes activation of stress signaling pathways and may lead to cell death. In the present study we used Drosophila melanogaster blood cells (haemocytes), obtained from the third instar larvae, to study the effects of high concentrations of Zn2+ on programmed cell death (PCD). We analyzed the activity of caspases, the level of caspase inhibitor protein DIAP1 and metallothioneins, as well as calcium concentrations and activity of mitochondria in haemocytes exposed to 0.35 and 1.7 mM concentrations of Zn. The obtained results showed that rapid increase of [Zn2+]i in the cytoplasm up-regulates metallothionein MtnB but not MtnA gene expression in cells treated with Zn2+ in both concentrations. Excess of Zn2+ also induced activation of the initiator caspase Dronc, associated with the mitochondrial pathway of PCD, and the effector caspase DrICE. In turn, the activity of receptor-regulated Dredd caspase was not changed. The level of DIAP1 decreased significantly in haemocytes in the presence of high Zn2+ concentration in comparison to untreated cells. Moreover, mitochondrial membrane potential was significantly decreased after exposure to Zn ions. These results indicate that high concentration of Zn2+ in the cytoplasm of haemocytes induces PCD via a mitochondrial pathway and that caspases play a pivotal role in this process.
Apoptosis; Metallothioneins; Mitochondria; Haemolymph; Fruit fly
Mouse metal response element-binding transcription factor-1 (MTF-1) regulates the transcription of genes in response to a variety of stimuli, including exposure to zinc or cadmium, hypoxia, and oxidative stress. Each of these stresses may increase labile cellular zinc, leading to nuclear translocation, DNA binding, and transcriptional activation of metallothionein genes (MT genes) by MTF-1. Several lines of evidence suggest that the highly conserved six-zinc finger DNA-binding domain of MTF-1 also functions as a zinc-sensing domain. In this study, we investigated the potential role of the peptide linkers connecting the four N-terminal zinc fingers of MTF-1 in their zinc-sensing function. Each of these three linkers is unique, completely conserved among all known vertebrate MTF-1 orthologs, and different from the canonical Cys2His2 zinc finger TGEKP linker sequence. Replacing the RGEYT linker between zinc fingers 1 and 2 with TGEKP abolished the zinc-sensing function of MTF-1, resulting in constitutive DNA binding, nuclear translocation, and transcriptional activation of the MT-I gene. In contrast, swapping the TKEKP linker between fingers 2 and 3 with TGEKP had little effect on the metal-sensing functions of MTF-1, whereas swapping the canonical linker for the shorter TGKT linker between fingers 3 and 4 rendered MTF-1 less sensitive to zinc-dependent activation both in vivo and in vitro. These observations suggest a mechanism by which physiological concentrations of accessible cellular zinc affect MTF-1 activity. Zinc may modulate highly specific, linker-mediated zinc finger interactions in MTF-1, thus affecting its zinc- and DNA-binding activities, resulting in translocation to the nucleus and binding to the MT-I gene promoter.