The core zinc transport machinery is well conserved between invertebrates and mammals, with the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster having clear homologues of all major groups of mammalian ZIP and ZNT transport genes. Functional characterization of several of the fly genes has revealed functional conservation between related fly and mammalian zinc transporters in some but not all cases, indicating that Drosophila is a useful model for examining mammalian zinc metabolism. Furthermore, Drosophila research, sometimes quite serendipitously, has provided novel insights into the function of zinc transporters and into zinc-related pathologies, which are highlighted here. Finally, the future research potential of the fly in nutrient metabolism is explored, with reference to emerging experimental technologies.
- Ion transport
- Zinc homeostasis