Archives of biochemistry and biophysics

3-Hydro-2,2,5,6-tetramethylpyrazine: A novel inducer of zinc transporter-1 in HepG2 human hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

PMID 26145010


Dihydropyrazine compounds, including 3-hydro-2,2,5,6-tetramethylpyrazine (DHP-3), are low-molecular-weight glycation products spontaneously generated in vivo and also ingested via food. Our preliminary study using microarray analysis demonstrated that DHP-3 induced zinc transporter-1 (ZnT-1) in HepG2 cells. It is well known that the increase of intracellular zinc is a sensitive stimulating factor for ZnT-1 protein induction; however, there is little information about the induction of ZnT-1 by low-molecular-weight chemical compounds. Here, we attempted to clarify the mechanism of ZnT-1 induction by DHP-3. A significant increase of ZnT-1 mRNA was observed 6h after DHP-3 treatment at concentrations over 0.5mM, and disappeared 24h after exposure. This induction pattern followed that of metal-responsive transcription factor 1 (MTF-1) mRNA, a metalloregulatory protein that serves as a major transcription factor of ZnT-1. Moreover, DHP-3 yielded transcriptional activation of MTF-1 in a luciferase reporter assay. The intracellular zinc content was unaffected by the compound; however, oxidative stress was observed in cells under the same conditions that activated the MTF-1 signaling pathway. These results suggest that DHP-3 is a novel ZnT-1 inducer and acts via activation of the MTF-1 signaling pathway. Additionally, the activation of MTF-1 by this compound likely occurs through oxidative stress.