Zinc transporter-1 concentrates at the postsynaptic density of hippocampal synapses

Carlos Sindreu, Àlex Bayés, Xavier Altafaj, Jeús Pérez-Clausell

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    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Zinc concentrates at excitatory synapses, both at the postsynaptic density and in a subset of glutamatergic boutons. Zinc can modulate synaptic plasticity, memory formation and nociception by regulating transmitter receptors and signal transduction pathways. Also, intracellular zinc accumulation is a hallmark of degenerating neurons in several neurological disorders. To date, no single zinc extrusion mechanism has been directly localized to synapses. Based on the presence of a canonical PDZ I motif in the Zinc Transporter-1 protein (ZnT1), we hypothesized that ZnT1 may be targeted to synaptic compartments for local control of cytosolic zinc. Using our previously developed protocol for the co-localization of reactive zinc and synaptic proteins, we further asked if ZnT1 expression correlates with presynaptic zinc content in individual synapses. Findings. Here we demonstrate that ZnT1 is a plasma membrane protein that is enriched in dendritic spines and in biochemically isolated synaptic membranes. Hippocampal CA1 synapses labelled by postembedding immunogold showed over a 5-fold increase in ZnT1 concentration at synaptic junctions compared with extrasynaptic membranes. Subsynaptic analysis revealed a peak ZnT1 density on the postsynaptic side of the synapse, < 10 nm away from the postsynaptic membrane. ZnT1 was found in the vast majority of excitatory synapses regardless of the presence of vesicular zinc in presynaptic boutons. Conclusions: Our study has identified ZnT1 as a novel postsynaptic density protein, and it may help elucidate the role of zinc homeostasis in synaptic function and disease. © 2014 Sindreu et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number16
    JournalMolecular Brain
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2014


    • Dendritic spine
    • Hippocampus
    • PDZ I motif
    • Postsynaptic density
    • ZnT1


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