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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cysteine-rich intestinal protein binds zinc during transmucosal zinc transport.

The mechanism of zinc absorption has not been delineated, but kinetic studies show that both passive and carrier-mediated processes are involved. We have identified a low molecular mass zinc-binding protein in the soluble fraction of rat intestinal mucosa that could function as an intracellular zinc carrier. The protein was not detected in liver or pancreas, suggesting a role specific to the intestine. The protein binds zinc during transmucosal zinc transport and shows signs of saturation at higher luminal zinc concentrations, characteristics consistent with a role in carrier-mediated zinc absorption. Microsequence analysis of the protein purified by gel-filtration HPLC and SDS/PAGE showed complete identity within the first 41 N-terminal amino acids with the deduced protein sequence of cysteine-rich intestinal protein [Birkenmeier, E. H. & Gordon, J. I. (1986) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 83, 2516-2520]. These investigators showed that the gene for this protein is developmentally regulated in neonates during the suckling period, conserved in many vertebrate species, and predominantly expressed in the small intestine. Cysteine-rich intestinal protein contains a recently identified conserved sequence of histidine and cysteine residues, the LIM motif, which our results suggest confers metal-binding properties that are important for zinc transport and/or functions of this micronutrient.[1]


  1. Cysteine-rich intestinal protein binds zinc during transmucosal zinc transport. Hempe, J.M., Cousins, R.J. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1991) [Pubmed]
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