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.
Explore further: 'Security guard' zinc is off-duty in diabetes
The diabetes-susceptible gene SLC30A8/ZnT8 regulates hepatic insulin clearance, J Clin Invest. 2013;123(10):4513–4524. DOI: 10.1172/JCI68807
Zinc, insulin, and the liver: a ménage à trois, J Clin Invest. 2013;123(10):4136–4139. DOI: 10.1172/JCI72325