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1.  SLC30A3 Responds to Glucose- and Zinc Variations in ß-Cells and Is Critical for Insulin Production and In Vivo Glucose-Metabolism During ß-Cell Stress 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5684.
Background
Ion transporters of the Slc30A- (ZnT-) family regulate zinc fluxes into sub-cellular compartments. β-cells depend on zinc for both insulin crystallization and regulation of cell mass.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This study examined: the effect of glucose and zinc chelation on ZnT gene and protein levels and apoptosis in β-cells and pancreatic islets, the effects of ZnT-3 knock-down on insulin secretion in a β-cell line and ZnT-3 knock-out on glucose metabolism in mice during streptozotocin-induced β-cell stress. In INS-1E cells 2 mM glucose down-regulated ZnT-3 and up-regulated ZnT-5 expression relative to 5 mM. 16 mM glucose increased ZnT-3 and decreased ZnT-8 expression. Zinc chelation by DEDTC lowered INS-1E insulin content and insulin expression. Furthermore, zinc depletion increased ZnT-3- and decreased ZnT-8 gene expression whereas the amount of ZnT-3 protein in the cells was decreased. Zinc depletion and high glucose induced apoptosis and necrosis in INS-1E cells. The most responsive zinc transporter, ZnT-3, was investigated further; by immunohistochemistry and western blotting ZnT-3 was demonstrated in INS-1E cells. 44% knock-down of ZnT-3 by siRNA transfection in INS-1E cells decreased insulin expression and secretion. Streptozotocin-treated mice had higher glucose levels after ZnT-3 knock-out, particularly in overt diabetic animals.
Conclusion/Significance
Zinc transporting proteins in β-cells respond to variations in glucose and zinc levels. ZnT-3, which is pivotal in the development of cellular changes as also seen in type 2 diabetes (e.g. amyloidosis in Alzheimer's disease) but not previously described in β-cells, is present in this cell type, up-regulated by glucose in a concentration dependent manner and up-regulated by zinc depletion which by contrast decreased ZnT-3 protein levels. Knock-down of the ZnT-3 gene lowers insulin secretion in vitro and affects in vivo glucose metabolism after streptozotocin treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005684
PMCID: PMC2683566  PMID: 19492079
2.  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

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