TRPM7 is the central gatekeeper of intestinal mineral absorption essential for postnatal survival

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 5;116(10):4706-4715. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1810633116. Epub 2019 Feb 15.


Zn2+, Mg2+, and Ca2+ are essential minerals required for a plethora of metabolic processes and signaling pathways. Different categories of cation-selective channels and transporters are therefore required to tightly control the cellular levels of individual metals in a cell-specific manner. However, the mechanisms responsible for the organismal balance of these essential minerals are poorly understood. Herein, we identify a central and indispensable role of the channel-kinase TRPM7 for organismal mineral homeostasis. The function of TRPM7 was assessed by single-channel analysis of TRPM7, phenotyping of TRPM7-deficient cells in conjunction with metabolic profiling of mice carrying kidney- and intestine-restricted null mutations in Trpm7 and animals with a global "kinase-dead" point mutation in the gene. The TRPM7 channel reconstituted in lipid bilayers displayed a similar permeability to Zn2+ and Mg2+ Consistently, we found that endogenous TRPM7 regulates the total content of Zn2+ and Mg2+ in cultured cells. Unexpectedly, genetic inactivation of intestinal rather than kidney TRPM7 caused profound deficiencies specifically of Zn2+, Mg2+, and Ca2+ at the organismal level, a scenario incompatible with early postnatal growth and survival. In contrast, global ablation of TRPM7 kinase activity did not affect mineral homeostasis, reinforcing the importance of the channel activity of TRPM7. Finally, dietary Zn2+ and Mg2+ fortifications significantly extended the survival of offspring lacking intestinal TRPM7. Hence, the organismal balance of divalent cations critically relies on one common gatekeeper, the intestinal TRPM7 channel.

Keywords: TRP channels; TRPM7; calcium; magnesium; zinc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Homeostasis
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Magnesium / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Minerals / metabolism*
  • TRPM Cation Channels / genetics
  • TRPM Cation Channels / metabolism*
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Minerals
  • TRPM Cation Channels
  • Trpm7 protein, mouse
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Calcium