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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 22;276(25):22258-64. Epub 2001 Apr 11.

The human ZIP1 transporter mediates zinc uptake in human K562 erythroleukemia cells.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.


The ZIP superfamily of transporters plays important roles in metal ion uptake in diverse organisms. There are 12 ZIP-encoding genes in humans, and we hypothesize that many of these proteins are zinc transporters. In this study, we addressed the role of one human ZIP gene, hZIP1, in zinc transport. First, we examined (65)Zn uptake activity in K562 erythroleukemia cells overexpressing hZIP1. These cells accumulated more zinc than control cells because of increased zinc influx. Moreover, consistent with its role in zinc uptake, hZIP1 protein was localized to the plasma membrane. Our results also demonstrated that hZIP1 is responsible for the endogenous zinc uptake activity in K562 cells. hZIP1 is expressed in untransfected K562 cells, and the increase in mRNA levels found in hZIP1-overexpressing cells correlated with the increased zinc uptake activity. Furthermore, hZIP1-dependent (65)Zn uptake was biochemically indistinguishable from the endogenous activity. Finally, inhibition of endogenous hZIP1 expression with antisense oligonucleotides caused a marked decrease in endogenous (65)Zn uptake activity. The observation that hZIP1 is the major zinc transporter in K562 cells, coupled with its expression in many normal cell types, indicates that hZIP1 plays an important role in zinc uptake in human tissues.

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