A zinc transporter gene required for development of the nervous system

Winyoo Chowanadisai, David M. Graham, Carl L Keen, Robert B. Rucker, Mark A. Messerli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The essentiality of zinc for normal brain development is well established. It has been suggested that primary and secondary zinc deficiencies can contribute to the occurrence of numerous human birth defects, including many involving the central nervous system. In a recent study, we searched for zinc transporter genes that were critical for neurodevelopment. We confirmed that ZIP12 is a zinc transporter encoded by the gene slc39a12 that is highly expressed in the central nervous systems of human, mouse, and frog (Xenopus tropicalis).Using loss-of-function methods, we determined that ZIP12 is required for neuronal differentiation and neurite outgrowth and necessary for neurulation and embryonic viability. These results highlight an essential need for zinc regulation during embryogenesis and nervous system development. We suggest that slc39a12 is a candidate gene for inherited neurodevelopmental defects in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere26207
JournalCommunicative and Integrative Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


  • Brain development
  • Cell signaling
  • Malnutrition
  • Microtubules
  • Neural tube defect
  • Periconceptual nutrition
  • Prenatal nutrition
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Zinc supplementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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