Comparing Gene Expression during Cadmium Uptake and Distribution: Untreated versus Oral Cd-Treated Wild-Type and ZIP14 Knockout Mice

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The nonessential metal cadmium (Cd) is toxic only after entering the cell. Proteins possibly relevant to intracellular Cd accumulation include the divalent metal transporter-1 (DMT1) and all 14 zinc-like iron-like protein (ZIP) importers, 10 zinc transporter (ZnT) exporters, and metallothionein chaperones MT1 and MT2. Comparing oral Cd-treated ZIP14 knockout (KO) with wild-type (WT) mice, we predicted Cd uptake and distribution would be diminished in the KO—because ZIP14 is very highly expressed in GI tract and liver; this was indeed observed for Cd content in liver. However, the reverse was found in kidney and lung from 6 or 12 h through 10 days of Cd exposure; at these times, Cd accumulation was unexpectedly greater in KO than WT mice; mRNA levels of the 27 above-mentioned genes were thus examined in proximal small intestine (PSI) versus kidney to see if these paradoxical effects could be explained by substantial alterations in any of the other 26 genes. PSI genes highly expressed in untreated WT animals included seven ZIP and five ZnT transporters, DMT1, MT1, and MT2; kidney genes included 11 ZIP and 7 ZnT transporters, DMT1, MT1, and MT2. Over 10 days of oral Cd, a bimodal response was seen for Cd content in PSI and for various mRNAs; initially, acute effects caused by the toxic metal; subsequently, the up- or down-regulation of important genes presumably to combat the sustained adversity. These data underscore the complex interplay between the gastrointestinal tract and renal proteins that might be relevant to Cd uptake and distribution in animals exposed to oral Cd.

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