The mechanism by which zinc regulates insulin synthesis and secretion in pancreatic beta-cells is still unclear. Cellular zinc homeostasis is largely maintained by zinc transporters and intracellular zinc binding proteins. In this study, we demonstrated that zinc transporter 7 (ZnT7, Slc30a7) was co-expressed with insulin in the islet of Langerhans in the mouse pancreas. In RIN5mF cells (rat insulinoma cells), ZnT7 was found mainly residing in the perinuclear region of the cell, which is consistent with its Golgi apparatus localization. Over-expression of ZnT7 in RIN5mF cells increased the total cellular insulin content leading to a high basal insulin secretion. Furthermore, glucose-induced insulin secretion was not altered in RIN5mF cells over-expressing ZnT7. Quantitative RT-PCR and (35)S metabolic labeling analysis demonstrated that over-expression of ZnT7 in RIN5mF cells led to an increase of insulin mRNA expression and subsequent insulin protein synthesis in the cell. Metal-responsive elements (MREs) were identified in the promoter regions of the Ins1 and Ins2 genes. Mtf1, a metal-responsive transcription factor, was shown to specifically bind to the MRE in the Ins genes and activated the insulin gene transcription. Together, the data strongly suggest that ZnT7 plays an important role in regulating insulin expression by modulating Mtf1 transcriptional activity.
Published by Elsevier Inc.