Author(s): Johnson LA, Kanak MA, KajdacsyBalla A, Pestaner JP, Bagasra O
Zinc (Zn) is essential for a very large number and variety of cellular functions but is also potentially toxic. Zn homeostasis is therefore dynamically maintained by a variety of transporters and other proteins distributed in distinct cellular and subcellular compartments. Zn transport is mediated by two major protein families: the Zip family, which mediates Zn influx, and the ZnTs which are primarily linked to Zn sequestration into intracellular compartments and are, thereby, involved in lowering cytoplasmic Zn free ion concentrations. In the prostate epithelial cell, the accumulation of high cellular zinc is a specialized function that is necessary for these cells to carry out the major physiological functions of production and secretion of prostatic fluids. The loss of Zn accumulation is the most consistent and persistent characteristic of prostate malignancy. Currently, there are no direct methods to determine the relative Zn levels in various cell types of prostate gland (i.e. stroma, glandular epithelia, acini, and muscular) and no reliable ways to compare the Zn in normal versus malignant areas of the gland. Here we report a new method to show a differential Zn staining method that correlates with various stages of prostate cancer development in situ and expression of a human Zn transporter1-hZIP1 -in situ by in situ reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction hybridization (ISRTPCR) that correlate with the relative Zn levels determined by the differential Zn staining method. By utilizing these methods, we show for the first time that: (1) the relative Zn levels are very low to absent in the malignant glands, (2) normal glands show high Zn levels in both glandular epithelia as well as in stromal tissues, (3) the Zn levels begin to decrease in pre-malignant glands and precedes the development of malignancy, and (4) the expression of human Zn transporter1 (hZIP1) appears to correlate with the Zn levels in the prostate glands and may be the major Zn regulator in this organ.