The zinc transporter Zip14 influences c-Met phosphorylation and hepatocyte proliferation during liver regeneration in mice

Gastroenterology. 2012 Jun;142(7):1536-46.e5. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.02.046. Epub 2012 Feb 25.


Background & aims: Zinc homeostasis in cells is maintained through tight regulation of zinc influx, efflux, and distribution to intracellular organelles by zinc transporters. The Zrt-Irt-like protein (ZIP) transporters facilitate zinc influx to the cytosol. Expression of the ZIP family member Zip14 can be induced by inflammatory cytokines, which also initiate liver regeneration. Hepatocyte proliferation is required for liver regeneration. Zinc regulates cell proliferation, tissue growth, and many mitogenic signaling pathways; we investigated its role in hepatocytes.

Methods: Wild-type and Zip14(-/-) mice that underwent partial hepatectomy (70% of liver removed) were used as models of liver regeneration. We also analyzed AML12 hepatocytes that overexpressed Zip14. Proliferation was assessed with proliferating cell nuclear antigen, CD1, and Ki67 markers and along with assays of zinc content was related to protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 signaling.

Results: Zip14 was up-regulated and hepatic zinc content increased during liver regeneration. Increased hepatic zinc inhibited activity of the phosphatase PTP1B and increased phosphorylation of c-Met, which promoted hepatocyte proliferation. AML12 cells that overexpressed Zip14 increased in zinc content and proliferation; PTP1B was inhibited and phosphorylation of c-Met increased. The increases in hepatic levels of zinc and hepatocyte proliferation that occurred following partial hepatectomy were not observed in Zip14(-/-) mice.

Conclusions: The transporter Zip14 mediates hepatic uptake of zinc during liver regeneration and for hepatocyte proliferation. These findings indicate that zinc transporter activity regulates liver tissue growth by sequestering zinc. Reagents that regulate ZIP14 activity might be developed as therapeutics to promote liver regeneration in patients with chronic liver disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cation Transport Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Liver Regeneration / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / metabolism
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 1 / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation
  • Zinc / metabolism
  • Zinc / pharmacology


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • SLC39A14 protein, mouse
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 1
  • Ptpn1 protein, mouse
  • Zinc