Cryo-EM study shows zinc transporter has built-in self-regulating sensor

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have determined the atomic-level structure of a zinc-transporter protein, a molecular machine that regulates levels of this crucial trace metal micronutrient inside cells. As described in a paper just published in Nature Communications, the structure reveals how the cellular membrane protein shifts its shape to move zinc from the environment into a cell, and temporarily blocks this action automatically when zinc levels inside the cell get too high.