People with a mutation in SLC30A8 - the gene encoding a zinc transporter have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, says study. 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 β cells. They found that this zinc transporter is required for insulin clearance by the liver and secreted zinc signals to β 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.