ResearchPad - zinc Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Environmental exposure to metal mixtures and linear growth in healthy Ugandan children]]> Stunting is an indicator of poor linear growth in children and is an important public health problem in many countries. Both nutritional deficits and toxic exposures can contribute to lower height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) and stunting (HAZ < -2).ObjectivesIn a community-based cross-sectional sample of 97 healthy children ages 6–59 months in Kampala, Uganda, we examined whether exposure to Pb, As, Cd, Se, or Zn were associated with HAZ individually or as a mixture.MethodsBlood samples were analyzed for a mixture of metals, which represent both toxins and essential nutrients. The association between HAZ and metal exposure was tested using multivariable linear regression and Weighted Quantile Sum (WQS) regression, which uses mixtures of correlated exposures as a predictor.ResultsThere were 22 stunted children in the sample, mean HAZ was -0.74 (SD = 1.84). Linear regression showed that Pb (β = -0.80, p = 0.021) and Se (β = 1.92, p = 0.005) were significantly associated with HAZ. The WQS models separated toxic elements with a presumed negative effect on HAZ (Pb, As, Cd) from essential nutrients with presumed positive effect on HAZ (Se and Zn). The toxic mixture was significantly associated with lower HAZ (β = -0.47, p = 0.03), with 62% of the effect from Pb. The nutrient WQS index did not reach statistical significance (β = -0.47, p = 0.16).DiscussionHigher blood lead and lower blood selenium level were both associated with lower HAZ. The significant associations by linear regression were reinforced by the WQS models, although not all associations reached statistical significance. These findings suggest that healthy children in this neighborhood of Kampala, Uganda, who have a high burden of toxic exposures, may experience detrimental health effects associated with these exposures in an environment where exposure sources are not well characterized. ]]> <![CDATA[Structure and functional analysis of the <i>Legionella pneumophila</i> chitinase ChiA reveals a novel mechanism of metal-dependent mucin degradation]]> A broad range of organisms produce chitinase enzymes that digest chitin, the second most abundant carbohydrate on earth. Chitinases have also been identified that are important factors in major bacterial diseases but it is unclear how. Legionella pneumophila causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia, and its chitinase ChiA is essential for the survival of L. pneumophila during infection of the lung. Using structural biology and microbiology methods we have determined that ChiA can associate with the L. pneumophila surface and along with other outer membrane proteins can also bind mammalian mucins. We also identified a new and unique enzyme mechanism where L. pneumophila ChiA can hydrolyse the peptide bonds of mucin-like proteins. Mucins are major components of the mucous that lines the surface of the respiratory, digestive, and urogenital tracts and acts as a first line of defence during infection. This is the first mechanistic understanding of how a chitinase can promote disease through additional peptidase activity and suggests that L. pneumophila ChiA can modulate host immune responses and disperse host mucosa during infection.

<![CDATA[Uptake and speciation of zinc in edible plants grown in smelter contaminated soils]]>

Heavy metal accumulation in edible plants grown in contaminated soils poses a major environmental risk to humans and grazing animals. This study focused on the concentration and speciation of Zn in different edible plants grown in soils contaminated with smelter wastes (Spelter, WV, USA) containing high levels of the metals Zn, Cu, Pb, Cd. Their accumulation was examined in different parts (roots, stem, and leaves) of plants and as a function of growth stage (dry seed, sprouting seed, cotyledon, and leaves) in the root vegetables radish, the leafy vegetable spinach and the legume clover. Although the accumulation of metals varied significantly with plant species, the average metal concentrations were [Zn] > [Pb] > [Cu] > [Cd]. Metal uptake studies were complemented with bulk and micro X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) at Zn K-edge and micro X-ray fluorescence (μXRF) measurements to evaluate the speciation and distribution of Zn in these plant species. Dynamic interplay between the histidine and malate complexation of Zn was observed in all plant species. XRF mapping of spinach leaves at micron spatial resolution demonstrated the accumulation of Zn in vacuoles and leaf tips. Radish root showed accumulation of Zn in root hairs, likely as ZnS nanoparticles. At locations of high Zn concentration in spinach leaves, μXANES suggests Zn complexation with histidine, as opposed to malate in the bulk leaf. These findings shed new light on the dynamic nature of Zn speciation in plants.

<![CDATA[Mapping the coevolution, leadership and financing of research on viral vectors, RNAi, CRISPR/Cas9 and other genomic editing technologies]]>

Genomic editing technologies are developing rapidly, promising significant developments for biomedicine, agriculture and other fields. In the present investigation, we analyzed and compared the process of innovation for six genomic technologies: viral vectors, RNAi, TALENs, meganucleases, ZFNs and CRISPR/Cas including the profile of the main research institutions and their funders, to understand how innovation evolved and what institutions influenced research trajectories. A Web of Science search of papers on viral vectors RNAi, CRISPR/Cas, TALENs, ZFNs and meganucleases was used to build a citation network of 16,746 papers. An analysis of network clustering combined with text mining was performed. For viral vectors, a long-term process of incremental innovation was identified, which was largely publicly funded in the United States and the European Union. The trajectory of RNAi research included clusters related to the study of RNAi as a biological phenomenon and its use in functional genomics, biomedicine and pest control. A British philanthropic organization and a US pharmaceutical company played a key role in the development of basic RNAi research and clinical application respectively, in addition to government and academic institutions. In the case of CRISPR/Cas research, basic science discoveries led to the technical improvements, and these two in turn provided the information required for the development of biomedical, agricultural, livestock and industrial applications. The trajectory of CRISPR/Cas research exhibits a geopolitical division of the investigation efforts between the US, as the main producer and funder of basic research and technical improvements, and Chinese research institutions increasingly leading applied research. Our results reflect a change in the model for financing science, with reduced public financing for basic science and applied research on publicly funded technological developments in the US, and the emergence of China as a scientific superpower, with implications for the development of applications of genomic technologies.

<![CDATA[Graphene oxide in zinc alginate films: Antibacterial activity, cytotoxicity, zinc release, water sorption/diffusion, wettability and opacity]]>

Alginate is considered an exceptional biomaterial due to its hydrophilicity, biocompatibility, biodegradability, nontoxicity and low-cost in comparison with other biopolymers. We have recently demonstrated that the incorporation of 1% graphene oxide (GO) into alginate films crosslinked with Ca2+ cations provides antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis, and no cytotoxicity for human keratinocyte HaCaT cells. However, many other reports in literature have shown controversial results about the toxicity of GO demanding further investigation. Furthermore, the synergic effect of GO with other divalent cations with intrinsic antibacterial and cytotoxic activity such as Zn2+ has not been explored yet. Thus, here, two commercially available sodium alginates were characterised and utilized in the synthesis of zinc alginate films with GO following the same chemical route reported for the calcium alginate/GO composites. The results of this study showed that zinc release, water sorption/diffusion and wettability depended significantly on the type of alginate utilized. Furthermore, Zn2+ and GO produced alginate films with increased water diffusion, wettability and opacity. However, neither the combination of GO with Zn2+ nor the use of different types of sodium alginates modified the antibacterial activity and cytotoxicity of the zinc alginates against these Gram-positive pathogens and human cells respectively.

<![CDATA[Inhalation of ZnO Nanoparticles: Splice Junction Expression and Alternative Splicing in Mice]]>


Despite the wide application of nanomaterials, toxicity studies of nanoparticles (NP) are often limited to in vitro cell models, and the biological impact of NP exposure in mammals has not been thoroughly investigated. Zinc oxide (ZnO) NPs are commonly used in various consumer products. To evaluate the effects of the inhalation of ZnO NP in mice, we studied splice junction expression in the lungs as a proxy to gene expression changes analysis. Female ICR mice were treated with 6.46 × 104 and 1.93 × 106 NP/cm3 for 3 days and 3 months, respectively. An analysis of differential expression and alternative splicing events in 298 targets (splice junctions) of 68 genes involved in the processes relevant to the biological effects of ZnO NP was conducted using next-generation sequencing. Three days of exposure resulted in the upregulation of IL-6 and downregulation of BID, GSR, NF-kB2, PTGS2, SLC11A2, and TXNRD1 splice junction expression; 3 months of exposure increased the expression of splice junctions in ALDH3A1, APAF1, BID, CASP3, DHCR7, GCLC, GCLM, GSR, GSS, EHHADH, FAS, HMOX-1, IFNγ, NF-kB1, NQO-1, PTGS1, PTGS2, RAD51, RIPK2, SRXN1, TRAF6, and TXNRD1. Alternative splicing of TRAF6 and TXNRD1 was induced after 3 days of exposure to 1.93 × 106 NP/cm3. In summary, we observed changes of splice junction expression in genes involved in oxidative stress, apoptosis, immune response, inflammation, and DNA repair, as well as the induction of alternative splicing in genes associated with oxidative stress and inflammation. Our data indicate the potential negative biological effects of ZnO NP inhalation.

<![CDATA[Trace metals in Northern New England streams: Evaluating the role of road salt across broad spatial scales with synoptic snapshots]]>

Mobilization of trace metals from soils to surface waters can impact both human and ecosystem health. This study resamples a water sample archive to explore the spatial pattern of streamwater total concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc and their associations with biogeochemical controls in northern New England. Road deicing appears to result in elevated trace metal concentrations, as trace metal concentrations are strongly related to sodium concentrations and are most elevated when the sodium: chloride ratio is near 1.0 (~halite). Our results are consistent with previous laboratory and field studies that indicate cation exchange as a metal mobilization mechanism when road salt is applied to soils containing metals. This study also documents associations among sodium, chloride, dissolved organic carbon, iron, and metal concentrations, suggesting cation exchange mechanisms related to road deicing are not the only mechanisms that increase trace metal concentrations in surface waters. In addition to cation exchange, this study considers dissolved organic carbon complexation and oxidation-reduction conditions affecting metal mobility from soils in a salt-rich environment. These observations demonstrate that road deicing has the potential to increase streamwater trace metal concentrations across broad spatial scales and increase risks to human and ecosystem health.

<![CDATA[Biophysical and structural characterization of a zinc-responsive repressor of the MarR superfamily]]>

The uptake of zinc, which is vital in trace amounts, is tightly controlled in bacteria. For this control, bacteria of the Streptococcaceae group use a Zn(II)-binding repressor named ZitR in lactococci and AdcR in streptococci, while other bacteria use a Zur protein of the Ferric uptake regulator (Fur) superfamily. ZitR and AdcR proteins, characterized by a winged helix-turn-helix DNA-binding domain, belong to the multiple antibiotic resistance (MarR) superfamily, where they form a specific group of metallo-regulators. Here, one such Zn(II)-responsive repressor, ZitR of Lactococcus lactis subspecies cremoris strain MG1363, is characterized. Size Exclusion Chromatography-coupled to Multi Angle Light Scattering, Circular Dichroism and Isothermal Titration Calorimetry show that purified ZitR is a stable dimer complexed to Zn(II), which is able to bind its two palindromic operator sites on DNA fragments. The crystal structure of ZitR holo-form (Zn(II)4-ZitR2), has been determined at 2.8 Å resolution. ZitR is the fourth member of the MarR metallo-regulator subgroup whose structure has been determined. The folding of ZitR/AdcR metallo-proteins is highly conserved between both subspecies (cremoris or lactis) in the Lactococcus lactis species and between species (Lactococcus lactis and Streptococcus pneumoniae or pyogenes) in the Streptococcaceae group. It is also similar to the folding of other MarR members, especially in the DNA-binding domain. Our study contributes to better understand the biochemical and structural properties of metallo-regulators in the MarR superfamily.

<![CDATA[Zn-alloy provides a novel platform for mechanically stable bioresorbable vascular stents]]>

Metallic Zn alloys have recently gained interest as potential candidates for developing platforms of bioresorbable vascular stents (BVS). Previous studies revealed that Mg alloys used for BVS can degrade too early, whereas PLLA materials may fail to provide effective scaffolding properties. Here we report on results of a new bioresorbable, metallic stent made from a Zn-Ag alloy studied in a porcine animal model of thrombosis and restenosis. While the tensile strength (MPa) of Zn-3Ag was higher than that of PLLA and resembled Mg’s (WE43), fracture elongation (%) of Zn-3Ag was much greater (18-fold) than the PLLA’s or Mg alloy’s (WE43). Zn-3Ag exposed to HAoSMC culture medium for 30 days revealed degradation elements consisting of Zn, O, N, C, P, and Na at a 6 nm surface depth. Platelet adhesion rates and blood biocompatibility did not differ between Zn-3Ag, PLLA, Mg (WE43), and non-resorbable Nitinol (NiTi) stent materials. Balloon-expandable Zn-3Ag alloy BVS implanted into iliofemoral arteries of 15 juvenile domestic pigs were easily visible fluoroscopically at implantation, and their bioresorption was readily detectable via X-ray over time. Histologically, arteries with Zn-3Ag BVS were completely endothelialized, covered with neointima, and were patent at 1, 3, and 6 months follow-up with no signs of stent thrombosis. Zn-3Ag alloy appears to be a promising material platform for the fabrication of a new generation of bioresorbable vascular stents.

<![CDATA[Characterization and mechanism of lead and zinc biosorption by growing Verticillium insectorum J3]]>

Verticillium insectorum J3 was isolated from a local lead-zinc deposit tailing, and its biosorption characteristics and reaction to the toxicities of different Pb(II) and Zn(II) concentrations were investigated. SEM, FTIR, a pH test and a desorption experiment were carried out to identify a possible mechanism. The biosorption of J3 presented an inhibition trend at low concentrations (25–75 mg L-1) and promotion at high concentrations (100–300 mg L-1). J3 absorbed Pb(II) prior to Zn(II) and produced alkaline substances, while mycelial and pellet morphology modifications were important for the removal of Pb(II) and Zn(II) under different stressful conditions (SEM results). Both intracellular accumulation and extracellular absorption may contribute to the removal of Pb(II) at lower concentrations (25–50 mg L-1), although mainly extracellular biosorption occurred at higher concentrations (75–300 mg L-1). However, Zn(II) bioaccumulation occurred at all concentrations assayed. Verticillium insectorum J3 may have evolved active defenses to alleviate the toxicity of heavy metals and proved to be a highly efficient biosorbent, especially for Pb(II) at high concentrations. This study is a useful reference for the development of biotreatment technologies to mitigate heavy metal waste.

<![CDATA[IAA producing fungal endophyte Penicillium roqueforti Thom., enhances stress tolerance and nutrients uptake in wheat plants grown on heavy metal contaminated soils]]>

Heavy metals contaminated soil is a serious environmental concern that has a negative impact on agriculture and ecosystem. Economical and efficient ways are needed to address this problem worldwide. In this regard, exploration and application of proficient microbial strains that can help the crop plants to thrive in agricultural soils that are greatly contaminated with heavy metals. The present study mainly focused on the effect of IAA producing endophytic fungi Penicillium ruqueforti Thom., on wheat plants cultivated in soil rich in heavy metals (Ni, Cd, Cu, Zn, and Pb). P. ruqueforti has induced great resistance in wheat inoculated plants grown in heavy metal contaminated soil. Application of the isolated strain of P. ruqueforti restricted the transfer of heavy metals from soil to the plants by secreting indole acetic acid (IAA). Furthermore, P. ruqueforti inoculated wheat seedlings watered with waste water had higher plant growth, nutrient uptake and low concentrations of heavy metals in shoot and roots. On the contrary, non-inoculated wheat plants under heavy metal stress had stunted growth with symptoms of chlorosis. From the results, it is concluded that P. ruqueforti inoculation can establish a symbiotic relationship with host plants, which is useful for phytostabilization of heavy metals or in other words helping the host crops to flourish through soil that are highly contaminated with heavy metals.

<![CDATA[Zinc enhances hippocampal long-term potentiation at CA1 synapses through NR2B containing NMDA receptors]]>

The role of zinc (Zn2+), a modulator of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, in regulating long-term synaptic plasticity at hippocampal CA1 synapses is poorly understood. The effects of exogenous application of Zn2+ and of chelation of endogenous Zn2+ were examined on long-term potentiation (LTP) of stimulus-evoked synaptic transmission at Schaffer collateral (SCH) synapses in field CA1 of mouse hippocampal slices using whole-cell patch clamp and field recordings. Low micromolar concentrations of exogenous Zn2+ enhanced the induction of LTP, and this effect required activation of NMDA receptors containing NR2B subunits. Zn2+ elicited a selective increase in NMDA/NR2B fEPSPs, and removal of endogenous Zn2+ with high-affinity Zn2+ chelators robustly reduced the magnitude of stimulus-evoked LTP. Taken together, our data show that Zn2+ at physiological concentrations enhances activation of NMDA receptors containing NR2B subunits, and that this effect enhances the magnitude of LTP.

<![CDATA[Synergetic Effects of K, Ca, Cu and Zn in Human Semen in Relation to Parameters Indicative of Spontaneous Hyperactivation of Spermatozoa]]>

We have observed that sperm quality parameters indicative of spermatozoa hyperactivation such are lower “linearity” and “straightness”, and as showed by this research “elongation”, were more pronounced in patients with normal spermiogram compared to the group of men with reduced sperm motility who were undergoing routine in vitro fertilisation. The research encompassed 97 men diagnosed with normozoospermia (n = 20), asthenozoospermia (n = 54) and oligoasthenozoospermia (n = 23). The findings indicate that sperm quality of patients with normal spermiogram diagnosed according to WHO criteria, may be compromised by showing premature spontaneous hyperactivation which can decrease the chances of natural conception. We assessed synergistic effects of multiple chemical elements in ejaculated semen to find if premature spontaneous hyperactivation of spermatozoa can be a sign of imbalanced semen composition especially of elements K, Ca, Cu and Zn. Human semen samples showing low or high baseline status of chemical elements concentrations were found in samples from all three diagnostic groups. However, correlation of K/Ca and Cu/Zn ratios, taking into account samples from all three groups of men, were negative at statistical significance level p = 0.01. We tested if the negative correlation between K/Ca and Cu/Zn ratio works for greater number of semen samples. We found the negative correlation to be valid for 175 semen samples at statistical significance of p = 0.00002. The ratio of K/Ca and Cu/Zn, i.e. increased concentrations of K and Zn in comparison to concentrations of Ca and Cu, were associated with a decrease of “straightness” in the group of men with normal spermiogram and pronounced spontaneous hyperactivation of spermatozoa, implying that these elements act in synergy and that the balance of elements and not their absolute concentrations plays the major role in premature spermatozoa hyperactivation in ejaculated semen.

<![CDATA[Structure-function analyses of metal-binding sites of HypA reveal residues important for hydrogenase maturation in Helicobacter pylori]]>

The nickel-containing enzymes of Helicobacter pylori, urease and hydrogenase, are essential for efficient colonization in the human stomach. The insertion of nickel into urease and hydrogenase is mediated by the accessory protein HypA. HypA contains an N-terminal nickel-binding site and a dynamic structural zinc-binding site. The coordination of nickel and zinc within HypA is known to be critical for urease maturation and activity. Herein, we test the hydrogenase activity of a panel of H. pylori mutant strains containing point mutations within the nickel- and zinc-binding sites. We found that the residues that are important for hydrogenase activity are those that were similarly vital for urease activity. Thus, the zinc and metal coordination sites of HypA play similar roles in urease and hydrogenase maturation. In other pathogenic bacteria, deletion of hydrogenase leads to a loss in acid resistance. Thus, the acid resistance of two strains of H. pylori containing a hydrogenase deletion was also tested. These mutant strains demonstrated wild-type levels of acid resistance, suggesting that in H. pylori, hydrogenase does not play a role in acid resistance.

<![CDATA[Endomicroscopic and Transcriptomic Analysis of Impaired Barrier Function and Malabsorption in Environmental Enteropathy]]>


Environmental enteropathy (EE) is associated with growth failure, micronutrient malabsorption and impaired responses to oral vaccines. We set out to define cellular mechanisms of impaired barrier function in EE and explore protective mechanisms.


We studied 49 adults with environmental enteropathy in Lusaka, Zambia using confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE); histology, immunohistochemistry and mRNA sequencing of small intestinal biopsies; and correlated these with plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and a zinc uptake test.


CLE images (median 134 for each study) showed virtually ubiquitous small intestinal damage. Epithelial defects, imaged by histology and claudin 4 immunostaining, were predominantly seen at the tips of villi and corresponded with leakage imaged in vivo by CLE. In multivariate analysis, circulating log-transformed LPS was correlated with cell shedding events (β = 0.83; P = 0.035) and with serum glucagon-like peptide-2 (β = -0.13; P = 0.007). Zinc uptake from a test dose of 25mg was attenuated in 30/47 (64%) individuals and in multivariate analysis was reduced by HIV, but positively correlated with GLP-2 (β = 2.72; P = 0.03). There was a U-shaped relationship between circulating LPS and villus surface area. Transcriptomic analysis identified 23 differentially expressed genes in severe enteropathy, including protective peptides and proteins.


Confocal endomicroscopy, claudin 4 immunostaining and histology identify epithelial defects which are probably sites of bacterial translocation, in the presence of which increased epithelial surface area increases the burden of translocation. GLP 2 and other protective peptides may play an important role in mucosal protection in EE.

<![CDATA[Zinc blocks SOS-induced antibiotic resistance via inhibition of RecA in Escherichia coli]]>

Zinc inhibits the virulence of diarrheagenic E. coli by inducing the envelope stress response and inhibiting the SOS response. The SOS response is triggered by damage to bacterial DNA. In Shiga-toxigenic E. coli, the SOS response strongly induces the production of Shiga toxins (Stx) and of the bacteriophages that encode the Stx genes. In E. coli, induction of the SOS response is accompanied by a higher mutation rate, called the mutator response, caused by a shift to error-prone DNA polymerases when DNA damage is too severe to be repaired by canonical DNA polymerases. Since zinc inhibited the other aspects of the SOS response, we hypothesized that zinc would also inhibit the mutator response, also known as hypermutation. We explored various different experimental paradigms to induce hypermutation triggered by the SOS response, and found that hypermutation was induced not just by classical inducers such as mitomycin C and the quinolone antibiotics, but also by antiviral drugs such as zidovudine and anti-cancer drugs such as 5-fluorouracil, 6-mercaptopurine, and azacytidine. Zinc salts inhibited the SOS response and the hypermutator phenomenon in E. coli as well as in Klebsiella pneumoniae, and was more effective in inhibiting the SOS response than other metals. We then attempted to determine the mechanism by which zinc, applied externally in the medium, inhibits hypermutation. Our results show that zinc interferes with the actions of RecA, and protects LexA from RecA-mediated cleavage, an early step in initiation of the SOS response. The SOS response may play a role in the development of antibiotic resistance and the effect of zinc suggests ways to prevent it.

<![CDATA[An Interplay of S-Nitrosylation and Metal Ion Binding for Astrocytic S100B Protein]]>

Mammalian S100B protein plays multiple important roles in cellular brain processes. The protein is a clinically used marker for several pathologies including brain injury, neurodegeneration and cancer. High levels of S100B released by astrocytes in Down syndrome patients are responsible for reduced neurogenesis of neural progenitor cells and induction of cell death in neurons. Despite increasing understanding of S100B biology, there are still many questions concerning the detailed molecular mechanisms that determine specific activities of S100B. Elevated overexpression of S100B protein is often synchronized with increased nitric oxide-related activity. In this work we show S100B is a target of exogenous S-nitrosylation in rat brain protein lysate and identify endogenous S-nitrosylation of S100B in a cellular model of astrocytes. Biochemical studies are presented indicating S-nitrosylation tunes the conformation of S100B and modulates its Ca2+ and Zn2+ binding properties. Our in vitro results suggest that the possibility of endogenous S-nitrosylation should be taken into account in the further studies of in vivo S100B protein activity, especially under conditions of increased NO-related activity.

<![CDATA[Zinc Stabilizes Shank3 at the Postsynaptic Density of Hippocampal Synapses]]>

Shank3 is a postsynaptic density (PSD) scaffold protein of the Shank family. Here we use pre-embedding immunogold electron microscopy to investigate factors influencing the distribution of Shank3 at the PSD. In dissociated rat hippocampal cultures under basal conditions, label for Shank3 was concentrated in a broad layer of the PSD, ~20–80 nm from the postsynaptic membrane. Upon depolarization with high K+ (90 mM, 2 min), or application of NMDA (50 μM, 2 min), both the labeling intensity at the PSD and the median distance of label from the postsynaptic membrane increased significantly, indicating that Shank3 molecules are preferentially recruited to the distal layer of the PSD. Incubation in medium supplemented with zinc (50 μM ZnCl2, 1 hr) also significantly increased labeling intensity for Shank3 at the PSD, but this addition of Shank3 was not preferential to the distal layer. When cells were incubated with zinc and then treated with NMDA, labeling intensity of Shank3 became higher than with either treatment alone and manifested a preference for the distal layer of the PSD. Without zinc supplementation, NMDA-induced accumulation of Shank3 at the PSD was transient, reversing within 30 min after return to control medium. However, when zinc was included in culture media throughout the experiment, the NMDA-induced accumulation of Shank3 was largely retained, including Shank3 molecules recruited to the distal layer of the PSD. These results demonstrate that activity induces accumulation of Shank3 at the PSD and that zinc stabilizes PSD-associated Shank3, possibly through strengthening of Shank-Shank association.

<![CDATA[The Zinc-Schiff Base-Novicidin Complex as a Potential Prostate Cancer Therapy]]>

Prostate cancer cells control energy metabolism by chelating intracellular zinc. Thus, zinc delivery has been a popular therapeutic approach for prostate cancer. Here, we propose the use of the membrane-penetrating peptide Novicidin connected to zinc-Schiff base as a carrier vehicle for the delivery of zinc to prostate cells. Mass spectrometry, electrochemistry and spectrophotometry confirmed the formation/stability of this complex and provided insight regarding the availability of zinc for complex interactions. This delivery system showed minor toxicity in normal PNT1A cells and high potency towards PC3 tumor cells. The complex preferentially penetrated PC3 tumor cells in contrast to confinement to the membranes of PNT1A. Furthermore, zinc uptake was confirmed in both cell lines. Molecular analysis was used to confirm the activation of zinc stress (e.g., ZnT-1) and apoptosis (e.g., CASP-1). Our results strongly suggest that the zinc-Schiff base-Novicidin complex has great potential as a novel anticancer drug.

<![CDATA[Expression of the ZNT1 Zinc Transporter from the Metal Hyperaccumulator Noccaea caerulescens Confers Enhanced Zinc and Cadmium Tolerance and Accumulation to Arabidopsis thaliana]]>

Prompt regulation of transition metal transporters is crucial for plant zinc homeostasis. NcZNT1 is one of such transporters, found in the metal hyperaccumulator Brassicaceae species Noccaea caerulescens. It is orthologous to AtZIP4 from Arabidopsis thaliana, an important actor in Zn homeostasis. We examined if the NcZNT1 function contributes to the metal hyperaccumulation of N. caerulescens. NcZNT1 was found to be a plasma-membrane located metal transporter. Constitutive overexpression of NcZNT1 in A. thaliana conferred enhanced tolerance to exposure to excess Zn and Cd supply, as well as increased accumulation of Zn and Cd and induction of the Fe deficiency response, when compared to non-transformed wild-type plants. Promoters of both genes were induced by Zn deficiency in roots and shoots of A. thaliana. In A. thaliana, the AtZIP4 and NcZNT1 promoters were mainly active in cortex, endodermis and pericycle cells under Zn deficient conditions. In N. caerulescens, the promoters were active in the same tissues, though the activity of the NcZNT1 promoter was higher and not limited to Zn deficient conditions. Common cis elements were identified in both promoters by 5’ deletion analysis. These correspond to the previously determined Zinc Deficiency Responsive Elements found in A. thaliana to interact with two redundantly acting transcription factors, bZIP19 and bZIP23, controlling the Zn deficiency response. In conclusion, these results suggest that NcZNT1 is an important factor in contributing to Zn and Cd hyperaccumulation in N. caerulescens. Differences in cis- and trans-regulators are likely to account for the differences in expression between A. thaliana and N. caerulescens. The high, constitutive NcZNT1 expression in the stele of N. caerulescens roots implicates its involvement in long distance root-to-shoot metal transport by maintaining a Zn/Cd influx into cells responsible for xylem loading.