Insights into zinc and cadmium biology in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Archives of biochemistry and biophysics

PubMedID: 27261336

Dietrich N, Tan CH, Cubillas C, Earley BJ, Kornfeld K. Insights into zinc and cadmium biology in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2016;.
Zinc is an essential metal that is involved in a wide range of biological processes, and aberrant zinc homeostasis is implicated in multiple human diseases. Cadmium is chemically similar to zinc, but it is a nonessential environmental pollutant. Because zinc deficiency and excess are deleterious, animals require homeostatic mechanisms to maintain zinc levels in response to dietary fluctuations. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is emerging as a powerful model system to investigate zinc trafficking and homeostasis as well as cadmium toxicity. Here we review genetic and molecular studies that have combined to generate a picture of zinc homeostasis based on the transcriptional control of zinc transporters in intestinal cells. Furthermore, we summarize studies of cadmium toxicity that reveal intriguing parallels with zinc biology.