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J Nutr. 2013 Dec;143(12):1882-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.184457. Epub 2013 Oct 2.

Gastric and colonic zinc transporter ZIP11 (Slc39a11) in mice responds to dietary zinc and exhibits nuclear localization.

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Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, Center for Nutritional Sciences, and 5Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.


Zinc transporters have been characterized to further understand the absorption and metabolism of dietary zinc. Our goal was to characterize zinc transporter Slc39a11 (ZIP11) expression and its subcellular localization within cells of the murine gastrointestinal tract of mice and to determine if dietary zinc regulates ZIP11. The greatest ZIP11 expression was in the stomach, cecum, and colon. Both Zip11 mRNA and ZIP11 protein were shown to be downregulated during dietary zinc restriction (<1 mg Zn/kg) in the murine stomach tissue but were unaffected in the colon. Acute repletion with zinc did not restore Zip11 mRNA levels in the stomach. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) revealed high ZIP11 levels in the lower regions of gastric glands and parietal cells of the stomach. IHC analysis of the colon showed a marked ZIP11 abundance within the cytoplasm of the colonic epithelial cells. IHC also showed an increase in ZIP11 expression in the colon during zinc restriction. There is a robust abundance of ZIP11 in the nuclei of cells of both stomach and colon. Our experiments suggest that when dietary zinc intake is compromised, the colon may increase zinc transporter expression to improve the efficiency for absorption via increased expression of specific zinc transporters, including ZIP11 and also zinc transporter Slc39a4. In conclusion, ZIP11 is highly expressed within the murine stomach and colon and appears to be partially regulated by dietary zinc intake within these tissues. ZIP11 may play a specialized role in zinc homeostasis within these tissues, helping to maintain mucosal integrity and function.

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