A distinct G-protein coupled receptor that senses changes in extracellular Zn2+
, ZnR/GPR39, was found in cells from tissues in which Zn2+
plays a physiological role. Most prominently, ZnR/GPR39 activity was described in prostate cancer, skin keratinocytes, and colon epithelial cells, where zinc is essential for cell growth, wound closure, and barrier formation. ZnR/GPR39 activity was also described in neurons that are postsynaptic to vesicular Zn2+
release. Activation of ZnR/GPR39 triggers Gαq-dependent signaling and subsequent cellular pathways associated with cell growth and survival. Furthermore, ZnR/GPR39 was shown to regulate the activity of ion transport mechanisms that are essential for the physiological function of epithelial and neuronal cells. Thus, ZnR/GPR39 provides a unique target for therapeutically modifying the actions of zinc in a specific and selective manner.
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