Individuals with a mutation in the gene encoding a zinc transporter, SLC30A8 have an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Insulin granules that are released from pancreatic β cells contain high levels of zinc; however, it is not clear why individuals with mutations in the SLC30A8 zinc transporter gene are predisposed to type 2 diabetes. In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Yoshio Fujitani and colleagues at Juntendo University investigated the role of zinc transport by SLC30A8 in cells. They found that this zinc transporter is required for insulin clearance by the liver and secreted zinc signals to cells to stop releasing insulin. In the accompanying commentary, Alan Attie and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discuss the dynamic regulatory role of zinc in insulin regulation.
Provided by Journal of Clinical Investigation