C. elegans is a powerful model for studies of zinc biology. Here we review recent discoveries and emphasize the advantages of this model organism. Methods for manipulating and measuring zinc levels have been developed in or adapted to the worm. The C. elegans genome encodes highly conserved zinc transporters, and their expression and function are beginning to be characterized. Homeostatic mechanisms have evolved to respond to high and low zinc conditions. The pathway for high zinc homeostasis has been recently elucidated based on the discovery of the master regulator of high zinc homeostasis, HIZR-1. A parallel pathway for low zinc homeostasis is beginning to emerge based on the discovery of the Low Zinc Activation promoter element. Zinc has been established to play a role in two cell fate determination events, and accumulating evidence suggests zinc may function as a second messenger signaling molecule during vulval cell development and sperm activation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118882
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • HIZR-1
  • LZA
  • Lysosome-related organelles
  • Sperm activation
  • Vulval development
  • Zinc transporters


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