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1.  Hypoxia lowers SLC30A8/ZnT8 expression and free cytosolic Zn2+ in pancreatic beta cells 
Diabetologia  2014;57(8):1635-1644.
Aims/hypothesis
Hypoxic damage complicates islet isolation for transplantation and may contribute to beta cell failure in type 2 diabetes. Polymorphisms in the SLC30A8 gene, encoding the secretory granule zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8), influence type 2 diabetes risk, conceivably by modulating cytosolic Zn2+ levels. We have therefore explored the role of ZnT8 and cytosolic Zn2+ in the response to hypoxia of pancreatic islet cells.
Methods
Human, mouse or rat islets were isolated and exposed to varying O2 tensions. Cytosolic free zinc was measured using the adenovirally expressed recombinant targeted zinc probe eCALWY4. Gene expression was measured using quantitative (q)RT-PCR, western (immuno-) blotting or immunocytochemistry. Beta cells were identified by insulin immunoreactivity.
Results
Deprivation of O2 (1% vs 5% or 21%) for 24 h lowered free cytosolic Zn2+ concentrations by ~40% (p < 0.05) and ~30% (p < 0.05) in mouse and human islet cells, respectively. Hypoxia similarly decreased SLC30A8 mRNA expression in islets, and immunoreactivity in beta cells. Implicating lowered ZnT8 levels in the hypoxia-induced fall in cytosolic Zn2+, genetic ablation of Slc30a8 from mouse islets lowered cytosolic Zn2+ by ~40% (p < 0.05) and decreased the induction of metallothionein (Mt1, Mt2) genes. Cell survival in the face of hypoxia was enhanced in small islets of older (>12 weeks) Slc30a8 null mice vs controls, but not younger animals.
Conclusions/interpretation
The response of pancreatic beta cells to hypoxia is characterised by decreased SLC30A8 expression and lowered cytosolic Zn2+ concentrations. The dependence on ZnT8 of hypoxia-induced changes in cell survival may contribute to the actions of SLC30A8 variants on diabetes risk in humans.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3266-0) contains peer-reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3266-0
PMCID: PMC4079946  PMID: 24865615
Hypoxia; Metallothionein; Type 2 diabetes; Zinc; Zinc transporter
2.  Tolbutamide Controls Glucagon Release From Mouse Islets Differently Than Glucose 
Diabetes  2013;62(5):1612-1622.
We evaluated the role of ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) channels, somatostatin, and Zn2+ in the control of glucagon secretion from mouse islets. Switching from 1 to 7 mmol/L glucose inhibited glucagon release. Diazoxide did not reverse the glucagonostatic effect of glucose. Tolbutamide decreased glucagon secretion at 1 mmol/L glucose (G1) but stimulated it at 7 mmol/L glucose (G7). The reduced glucagon secretion produced by high concentrations of tolbutamide or diazoxide, or disruption of KATP channels (Sur1−/− mice) at G1 could be inhibited further by G7. Removal of the somatostatin paracrine influence (Sst−/− mice or pretreatement with pertussis toxin) strongly increased glucagon release, did not prevent the glucagonostatic effect of G7, and unmasked a marked glucagonotropic effect of tolbutamide. Glucose inhibited glucagon release in the absence of functional KATP channels and somatostatin signaling. Knockout of the Zn2+ transporter ZnT8 (ZnT8−/− mice) did not prevent the glucagonostatic effect of glucose. In conclusion, glucose can inhibit glucagon release independently of Zn2+, KATP channels, and somatostatin. Closure of KATP channels controls glucagon secretion by two mechanisms, a direct stimulation of α-cells and an indirect inhibition via somatostatin released from δ-cells. The net effect on glucagon release results from a balance between both effects.
doi:10.2337/db12-0347
PMCID: PMC3636641  PMID: 23382449
3.  Zinc transporters and their role in the pancreatic β‐cell 
Abstract
Zinc is an essential nutrient with tremendous importance for human health, and zinc deficiency is a severe risk factor for increased mortality and morbidity. As abnormal zinc homeostasis causes diabetes, and because the pancreatic β‐cell contains the highest zinc content of any known cell type, it is of interest to know how zinc fluxes are controlled in β‐cells. The understanding of zinc homeostasis has been boosted by the discovery of multiprotein families of zinc transporters, and one of them – zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8) – is abundantly and specifically expressed in the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. In this review, we discuss the evidence for a physiological role of ZnT8 in the formation of zinc‐insulin crystals, the physical form in which most insulin is stored in secretory granules. In addition, we cross‐examine this information, collected in genetically modified mouse strains, to the knowledge that genetic variants of the human ZnT8 gene predispose to the onset of type 2 diabetes and that epitopes on the ZnT8 protein trigger autoimmunity in patients with type 1 diabetes. The overall conclusion is that we are still at the dawn of a complete understanding of how zinc homeostasis operates in normal β‐cells and how abnormalities lead to β‐cell dysfunction and diabetes. (J Diabetes Invest, doi: 10.1111/j.2040‐1124.2012.00199.x, 2012)
doi:10.1111/j.2040-1124.2012.00199.x
PMCID: PMC4014939  PMID: 24843567
Insulin crystallization; Pancreatic β‐cell; Zinc transporter 8
4.  Free zinc ions outside a narrow concentration range are toxic to a variety of cells in vitro 
The zinc(II) ion has recently been implicated in a number of novel functions and pathologies in loci as diverse as the brain, retina, small intestine, prostate, heart, pancreas and immune system. Zinc ions are a required nutrient but elevated concentrations are known to kill cells in vitro. Paradoxical observations regarding zinc’s effects have appeared frequently in the literature, and often their physiological relevance is unclear. We found that for PC-12, HeLa and HT-29 cell lines as well as primary cultures of cardiac myocytes and neurons in vitro in differing media, approximately 5 nmol/L free zinc (pZn = 8.3, where pZn is defined as − log10 [free Zn2+]) produced apparently healthy cells, but 20-fold higher or (in one case) lower concentrations were usually harmful as judged by multiple criteria. These results indicate that (1) the free zinc ion levels of media should be controlled with a metal ion buffer; (2) adding zinc or strong zinc ligands to an insufficiently buffered medium may lead to unpredictably low or high free zinc levels that are often harmful to cells; and (3) it is generally desirable to measure free zinc ion levels due to the presence of contaminating zinc in many biochemicals and unknown buffering capacity of many media.
doi:10.1258/ebm.2010.009258
PMCID: PMC2896872  PMID: 20511678
zinc; toxicity; HeLa; neuron; cardiomyocyte; PC-12; HeLa; HT-29
5.  Insulin Storage and Glucose Homeostasis in Mice Null for the Granule Zinc Transporter ZnT8 and Studies of the Type 2 Diabetes–Associated Variants 
Diabetes  2009;58(9):2070-2083.
OBJECTIVE
Zinc ions are essential for the formation of hexameric insulin and hormone crystallization. A nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphism rs13266634 in the SLC30A8 gene, encoding the secretory granule zinc transporter ZnT8, is associated with type 2 diabetes. We describe the effects of deleting the ZnT8 gene in mice and explore the action of the at-risk allele.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Slc30a8 null mice were generated and backcrossed at least twice onto a C57BL/6J background. Glucose and insulin tolerance were measured by intraperitoneal injection or euglycemic clamp, respectively. Insulin secretion, electrophysiology, imaging, and the generation of adenoviruses encoding the low- (W325) or elevated- (R325) risk ZnT8 alleles were undertaken using standard protocols.
RESULTS
ZnT8−/− mice displayed age-, sex-, and diet-dependent abnormalities in glucose tolerance, insulin secretion, and body weight. Islets isolated from null mice had reduced granule zinc content and showed age-dependent changes in granule morphology, with markedly fewer dense cores but more rod-like crystals. Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, granule fusion, and insulin crystal dissolution, assessed by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, were unchanged or enhanced in ZnT8−/− islets. Insulin processing was normal. Molecular modeling revealed that residue-325 was located at the interface between ZnT8 monomers. Correspondingly, the R325 variant displayed lower apparent Zn2+ transport activity than W325 ZnT8 by fluorescence-based assay.
CONCLUSIONS
ZnT8 is required for normal insulin crystallization and insulin release in vivo but not, remarkably, in vitro. Defects in the former processes in carriers of the R allele may increase type 2 diabetes risks.
doi:10.2337/db09-0551
PMCID: PMC2731533  PMID: 19542200
6.  Zinc transporter gene expression is regulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines: a potential role for zinc transporters in beta-cell apoptosis? 
Background
β-cells are extremely rich in zinc and zinc homeostasis is regulated by zinc transporter proteins. β-cells are sensitive to cytokines, interleukin-1β (IL-1β) has been associated with β-cell dysfunction and -death in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This study explores the regulation of zinc transporters following cytokine exposure.
Methods
The effects of cytokines IL-1β, interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) on zinc transporter gene expression were measured in INS-1-cells and rat pancreatic islets. Being the more sensitive transporter, we further explored ZnT8 (Slc30A8): the effect of ZnT8 over expression on cytokine induced apoptosis was investigated as well as expression of the insulin gene and two apoptosis associated genes, BAX and BCL2.
Results
Our results showed a dynamic response of genes responsible for β-cell zinc homeostasis to cytokines: IL-1β down regulated a number of zinc-transporters, most strikingly ZnT8 in both islets and INS-1 cells. The effect was even more pronounced when mixing the cytokines. TNF-α had little effect on zinc transporter expression. IFN-γ down regulated a number of zinc transporters. Insulin expression was down regulated by all cytokines. ZnT8 over expressing cells were more sensitive to IL-1β induced apoptosis whereas no differences were observed with IFN-γ, TNF-α, or a mixture of cytokines.
Conclusion
The zinc transporting system in β-cells is influenced by the exposure to cytokines. Particularly ZnT8, which has been associated with the development of diabetes, seems to be cytokine sensitive.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-9-7
PMCID: PMC2651882  PMID: 19243577
7.  In silico identification and expression of SLC30 family genes: An expressed sequence tag data mining strategy for the characterization of zinc transporters' tissue expression 
BMC Genomics  2004;5:32.
Background
Intracellular zinc concentration and localization are strictly regulated by two main protein components, metallothioneins and membrane transporters. In mammalian cells, two membrane transporters family are involved in intracellular zinc homeostasis: the uptake transporters called SLC39 or Zip family and the efflux transporters called SLC30 or ZnT family. ZnT proteins are members of the cation diffusion facilitator (CDF) family of metal ion transporters.
Results
From genomic databanks analysis, we identified the full-length sequences of two novel SLC30 genes, SLC30A8 and SLC30A10, extending the SLC30 family to ten members. We used an expressed sequence tag (EST) data mining strategy to determine the pattern of ZnT genes expression in tissues. In silico results obtained for already studied ZnT sequences were compared to experimental data, previously published. We determined an overall good correlation with expression pattern obtained by RT-PCR or immunomethods, particularly for highly tissue specific genes.
Conclusion
The method presented herein provides a useful tool to complete gene families from sequencing programs and to produce preliminary expression data to select the proper biological samples for laboratory experimentation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-5-32
PMCID: PMC428573  PMID: 15154973

Results 1-7 (7)