We need zinc: one-tenth of the proteins in our cells require this metal for their normal functions in all aspects of cell metabolism.
We acquire zinc by eating it — in foods or multivitamin supplements — but up to 30% of people in some parts of the world are at risk for zinc deficiency, which can cause slowed growth, impaired immune function, neurological disorders and cancers. The World Health Organization considers zinc deficiency a leading contributor to disease and death.
Despite zinc’s critical role, however, it has not been clear how the metal gets put into proteins that use it or how our cells respond to zinc deficiency.
Now, a team led by Vanderbilt researchers has described and characterized the first zinc metallochaperone: a protein that puts zinc into other “client” proteins. The findings, reported in the journal Cell, shed light on the public health issue of zinc…