Overview of mammalian zinc transporters

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2004 Jan;61(1):49-68. doi: 10.1007/s00018-003-3148-y.


In recent years, a number of mammalian zinc transporters have been identified, and candidate genes are rapidly growing. These transporters are classified into two families: ZIP (ZRT, IRT-like protein) and CDF (cation diffusion facilitator). ZIP members facilitate zinc influx into the cytosol, while CDF members facilitate its efflux from the cytosol. Molecular characterization of the transporters has brought about major advances in our understanding of their physiological functions. Zinc metabolism is regulated primarily through zinc-dependent control of transcription, translation, and intracellular trafficking of transporters. Analyses of mice whose zinc transporter genes have been genetically disrupted and of the naturally occurring mutant mice with symptoms related to abnormal zinc metabolism have provided compelling evidence that some zinc transporters play critical roles in zinc homeostasis. In this review, we review the literature of mammalian zinc transporters with emphasis on very recent findings and elicit integrative knowledge of zinc homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Models, Biological
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • zinc-binding protein
  • Zinc