Isolation of Zn2+ as an endogenous agonist of GPR39 from fetal bovine serum

J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 2007;27(4):235-46. doi: 10.1080/10799890701506147.


We attempted to determine natural agonists of GPR39 in fetal bovine serum (FBS). FBS was conditioned to extract peptides and fractionated by two types of HPLC. The activity of each fraction was monitored by intracellular calcium mobilization. Then the purified active ingredient was analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. In this fashion, Zn2+ ion was identified as an agonist of GPR39, though no peptidergic molecules were found. The calcium-mobilizing activity of Zn2+ was not abolished by pertussis toxin but was by a phospholipase C (PLC) inhibitor, U73122, indicating that the activity of GPR39 is mediated through the Gqalpha -PLC pathway. In addition, Zn2+ also activated mouse and rat GPR39, showing that the function of GPR39 as a Zn2+ receptor is conserved across species. This study is the first exploration of GPR39 agonists in FBS and indicates that GPR39 functions as a Gq-coupled Zn2+-sensing receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cattle
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Peptide Hormones / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / blood
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Zinc / chemistry*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • GPR39 protein, human
  • GPR39 protein, mouse
  • Peptide Hormones
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • obestatin, mouse
  • obestatin, rat
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11
  • Zinc