ZnT1 is a neuronal Zn2+/Ca2+ exchanger

Noa Gottesman, Hila Asraf, Milos Bogdanovic, Israel Sekler, Thanos Tzounopoulos, Elias Aizenman, Michal Hershfinkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Zinc transporter 1 (ZnT1; SLC30A1) is present in the neuronal plasma membrane, critically modulating NMDA receptor function and Zn2+ neurotoxicity. The mechanism mediating Zn2+ transport by ZnT1, however, has remained elusive. Here, we investigated ZnT1-dependent Zn2+ transport by measuring intracellular changes of this ion using the fluorescent indicator FluoZin-3. In primary mouse cortical neurons, which express ZnT1, transient addition of extracellular Zn2+ triggered a rise in cytosolic Zn2+, followed by its removal. Knockdown of ZnT1 by adeno associated viral (AAV)-short hairpin RNA (shZnT1) markedly increased rates of Zn2+ rise, and decreased rates of its removal, suggesting that ZnT1 is a primary route for Zn2+ efflux in neurons. Although Zn2+ transport by other members of the SLC30A family is dependent on pH gradients across cellular membranes, altered H+ gradients were not coupled to ZnT1-dependent transport. Removal of cytoplasmic Zn2+, against a large inward gradient during the initial loading phase, suggests that Zn2+ efflux requires a large driving force. We therefore asked if Ca2+ gradients across the membrane can facilitate Zn2+ efflux. Elimination of extracellular Ca2+ abolished Zn2+ efflux, while increased extracellular Ca2+ levels enhanced Zn2+ efflux. Intracellular Ca2+ rises, measured in GCaMP6 expressing neurons, closely paralleled cytoplasmic Zn2+ removal. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that ZnT1 functions as a Zn2+/Ca2+ exchanger, thereby regulating the transport of two ions of fundamental importance in neuronal signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102505
Number of pages12
JournalCell Calcium
StatePublished - Jan 2022


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