Zinc released from injured cells is acting via the Zn2+-sensing receptor, ZnR, to trigger signaling leading to epithelial repair

Haleli Sharir, Anna Zinger, Andrey Nevo, Israel Sekler, Michal Hershfinkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


A role for Zn2+ in accelerating wound healing is established, yet, the signaling pathways linking Zn2+ to tissue repair are not well known. We show that in the human HaCaT keratinocytes extracellular Zn 2+ induces a metabotropic Ca2+ response that is abolished by silencing the expression of the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR39, suggesting that this Zn2+-sensing receptor, ZnR, is mediating the response. Keratinocytic-ZnR signaling is highly selective for Zn2+ and can be triggered by nanomolar concentrations of this ion. Interestingly, Zn 2+ was also released following cellular injury, as monitored by a specific non-permeable fluorescent Zn2+ probe, ZnAF-2. Chelation of Zn2+ and scavenging of ATP from conditioned medium, collected from injured epithelial cultures, was sufficient to eliminate the metabotropic Ca2+ signaling. The signaling triggered by Zn2+, via ZnR, or by ATP further activated MAP kinase and induced up-regulation of the sodium/proton exchanger NHE1 activity. Finally, activation of ZnR/GPR39 signaling or application of ATP enhanced keratinocytes scratch closure in an in vitro model. Thus our results indicate that extracellular Zn2+, which is either applied or released following injury, activates ZnR/GPR39 to promote signaling leading to epithelial repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26097-26106
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number34
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2010


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