Reassessment of the Transport Mechanism of the Human Zinc Transporter SLC39A2

Biochemistry. 2018 Jul 3;57(26):3976-3986. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00511. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


The human zinc transporter SLC39A2, also known as ZIP2, was shown to mediate zinc transport that could be inhibited at pH <7.0 and stimulated by HCO3-, suggesting a Zn2+/HCO3- cotransport mechanism [Gaither, L. A., and Eide, D. J. (2000) J. Biol. Chem. 275, 5560-5564]. In contrast, recent experiments in our laboratory indicated that the functional activity of ZIP2 increases at acidic pH [Franz, M. C., et al. (2014) J. Biomol. Screening 19, 909-916]. The study presented here was therefore designed to reexamine the findings about the pH dependence and to extend the functional characterization of ZIP2. Our current results show that ZIP2-mediated transport is modulated by extracellular pH but independent of the H+ driving force. Also, in our experiments, ZIP2-mediated transport is not modulated by extracellular HCO3-. Moreover, a high extracellular [K+], which induces depolarization, inhibited ZIP2-mediated transport, indicating that the transport mechanism is voltage-dependent. We also show that ZIP2 mediates the uptake of Cd2+ ( Km ∼ 1.57 μM) in a pH-dependent manner ( KH+ ∼ 66 nM). Cd2+ transport is inhibited by extracellular [Zn2+] (IC50 ∼ 0.32 μM), [Cu2+] (IC50 ∼ 1.81 μM), and to a lesser extent [Co2+], but not by [Mn2+] or [Ba2+]. Fe2+ is not transported by ZIP2. Accordingly, the substrate selectivity of ZIP2 decreases in the following order: Zn2+ > Cd2+ ≥ Cu2+ > Co2+. Altogether, we propose that ZIP2 is a facilitated divalent metal ion transporter that can be modulated by extracellular pH and membrane potential. Given that ZIP2 expression has been reported in acidic environments [Desouki, M. M., et al. (2007) Mol. Cancer 6, 37; Inoue, Y., et al. (2014) J. Biol. Chem. 289, 21451-21462; Tao, Y. T., et al. (2013) Mol. Biol. Rep. 40, 4979-4984], we suggest that the herein described H+-mediated regulatory mechanism might be important for determining the velocity and direction of the transport process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bicarbonates / metabolism
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Ion Transport / physiology
  • Metals


  • Bicarbonates
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Metals
  • SLC39A2 protein, human