Induction of the metal transporter ZIP8 by interferon gamma in intestinal epithelial cells: Potential role of metal dyshomeostasis in Crohn's disease

Joanna M.P. Melia, Ruxian Lin, Ramnik J. Xavier, Richard B. Thompson, Dax Fu, Fengyi Wan, Cynthia L. Sears, Mark Donowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Transition metals are required for intestinal homeostasis and provide essential nutrients for the resident microbiota. Abnormalities in metal homeostasis are common in Crohn's disease (CD), but remain poorly defined and causes appear multifactorial. There has been renewed interest in understanding these mechanisms with the discovery of an association between a coding variant in SLC39A8 (rs13107325; ZIP8 A391T) and increased CD risk. SLC39A8 encodes the protein ZIP8, a metal transporter that is induced under inflammatory stimuli; however, studies of its gut-specific functions are lacking. Here, we show that SLC39A8 mRNA is differentially expressed in active CD with a high positive correlation with markers of disease severity, including CXCL8, TNFα, IFNγ, and calprotectin. SLC39A8 expression exhibits a negative correlation with SLC39A4 and SLC39A5, two key zinc importers in absorptive enterocytes, and a lack of correlation with two manganese transporters, SLC39A14 and SLC11A2. Immunohistochemistry demonstrates ZIP8 expression in intestinal epithelial cells and immune cells of the lamina propria. Patients with CD exhibit variable patterns of ZIP8 subcellular localization within IECs. In ileal enteroids, SLC39A8 was induced by IFNγ and IFNγ + TNFα, but not by TNFα alone, independent of NF-κB activation. IFNγ also down-regulated SLC39A5. To explore the functional implications of disease-associated genetic variation, in over-expression experiments in HEK293A cells, ZIP8 A391T was associated with increased TNFα-induced NF-κB activation, consistent with a loss of negative regulation. Taken together, these results suggest a potential role for ZIP8 in intestinal inflammation, induced by IFNγ in the intestinal epithelial compartment, and that perturbations in negative regulation of NF-κB by ZIP8 A391T may contribute to CD pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 23 2019


  • Crohn's disease
  • Inflammation
  • Interferon gamma
  • SLC39A8
  • ZIP8
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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