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J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2016 Sep;37:125-133. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Feb 12.

Influence of DNA-methylation on zinc homeostasis in myeloid cells: Regulation of zinc transporters and zinc binding proteins.

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Institute of Immunology, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany.
Department of Food Chemistry and Toxicology, Berlin Institute of Technology, Gustav-Meyer-Allee 25, D-13355 Berlin, Germany.
Institute of Immunology, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany. Electronic address:


The distribution of intracellular zinc, predominantly regulated through zinc transporters and zinc binding proteins, is required to support an efficient immune response. Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation are involved in the expression of these genes. In demethylation experiments using 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (AZA) increased intracellular (after 24 and 48h) and total cellular zinc levels (after 48h) were observed in the myeloid cell line HL-60. To uncover the mechanisms that cause the disturbed zinc homeostasis after DNA demethylation, the expression of human zinc transporters and zinc binding proteins were investigated. Real time PCR analyses of 14 ZIP (solute-linked carrier (SLC) SLC39A; Zrt/IRT-like protein), and 9 ZnT (SLC30A) zinc transporters revealed significantly enhanced mRNA expression of the zinc importer ZIP1 after AZA treatment. Because ZIP1 protein was also enhanced after AZA treatment, ZIP1 up-regulation might be the mediator of enhanced intracellular zinc levels. The mRNA expression of ZIP14 was decreased, whereas zinc exporter ZnT3 mRNA was also significantly increased; which might be a cellular reaction to compensate elevated zinc levels. An enhanced but not significant chromatin accessibility of ZIP1 promoter region I was detected by chromatin accessibility by real-time PCR (CHART) assays after demethylation. Additionally, DNA demethylation resulted in increased mRNA accumulation of zinc binding proteins metallothionein (MT) and S100A8/S100A9 after 48h. MT mRNA was significantly enhanced after 24h of AZA treatment also suggesting a reaction of the cell to restore zinc homeostasis. These data indicate that DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mechanism affecting zinc binding proteins and transporters, and, therefore, regulating zinc homeostasis in myeloid cells.


Chromatin remodeling; Methylation; Myeloid cells; ZIP; Zinc; Znt

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