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J Cell Physiol. 2012 Apr;227(4):1761-70. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22900.

Mapping the zinc-transporting system in mammary cells: molecular analysis reveals a phenotype-dependent zinc-transporting network during lactation.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


The mammary epithelial cell transitions from a non-secreting to a terminally differentiated, secreting cell during lactation. Zinc (Zn) is a key modulator of phenotypic transition as it regulates over 300 biological functions including transcription, translation, energy transformation, intracellular signaling, and apoptosis. In addition, Zn must be redirected from normal cellular functions into the secretory compartment, as many components of the secretory system are Zn-dependent and an extraordinary amount of Zn is secreted (1-3 mg Zn/day) into milk. Herein, we utilized a "systems biology" approach of genomic and proteomic profiling to explore mechanisms through which Zn is reallocated during phenotype transition in the lactating mammary gland from mice and cultured mammary cells. Nine Zn transporters play key roles in Zn redistribution within the network during lactation. Protein abundance of six Zip (Zip3, Zip5, Zip7, Zip8, Zip10, Zip11) and three ZnT (ZnT2, ZnT4, ZnT9) proteins was expanded >2-fold during lactation, which was not necessarily reflected by changes in mRNA expression. Our data suggest that Zip5, Zip8, and Zip10 may be key to Zn acquisition from maternal circulation, while multiple Zip proteins reuptake Zn from milk. Confocal microscopy of cultured mammary cells identified the Golgi apparatus (modulated in part by ZnT5, Zip7, and Zip11) and the late endosomal compartment (modulated in part by ZnT2 and Zip3) as key intracellular compartments through which Zn is reallocated during lactation. These results provide an important framework for understanding the "Zn-transporting network" through which mammary gland Zn pools are redistributed and secreted into milk.

Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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