The human SLC30A8 gene encodes the zinc transporter ZnT8 which is specifically expressed in pancreatic beta cells (Chimienti et al. 2005). Zinc is required for zinc-insulin crystallization within secretory vesicles of these cells. After glucose stimulation, large amounts of zinc are secreted locally in the extracellular matrix together with insulin. It has been suggested that this co-secreted zinc plays a role in islet cell paracrine and/or autocrine communication (Chimienti F et al, 2006). Loss of function mutations in SLC30A8 are strongly protective against type 2 diabetes, suggesting SLC20A8 inhibition as a therapeutic target in T2D prevention. (Flannick et al. 2014).
Van Lommel, L,
zinc ion transmembrane transporter activity of SLC30A8 [secretory granule membrane]