Mammalian zinc transporters: nutritional and physiologic regulation

Annu Rev Nutr. 2009;29:153-76. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-033009-083312.


Research advances defining how zinc is transported into and out of cells and organelles have increased exponentially within the past five years. Research has progressed through application of molecular techniques including genomic analysis, cell transfection, RNA interference, kinetic analysis of ion transport, and application of cell and animal models including knockout mice. The knowledge base has increased for most of 10 members of the ZnT family and 14 members of the Zrt-, Irt-like protein (ZIP) family. Relative to the handling of dietary zinc is the involvement of ZnT1, ZIP4, and ZIP5 in intestinal zinc transport, involvement of ZIP10 and ZnT1 in renal zinc reabsorption, and the roles of ZIP5, ZnT2, and ZnT1 in pancreatic release of endogenous zinc. These events are major factors in regulation of zinc homeostasis. Other salient findings are the involvement of ZnT2 in lactation, ZIP14 in the hypozincemia of inflammation, ZIP6, ZIP7, and ZIP10 in metastatic breast cancer, and ZnT8 in insulin processing and as an autoantigen in diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Pancreas / metabolism
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • zinc-binding protein
  • Zinc