Albumin as a zinc carrier: properties of its high-affinity zinc-binding site

J Lu, Alan James Stewart, PJ Sadler, TJT Pinheiro, CA Blindauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

209 Citations (Scopus)


Although details of the molecular mechanisms for the uptake of the essential nutrient zinc into the bloodstream and its subsequent delivery to zinc-requiring organs and cells are poorly understood, it is clear that in vertebrates the majority of plasma zinc (9-14 microM; approx. 75-85%) is bound to serum albumin, constituting part of the so-called exchangeable pool. The binding of metal ions to serum albumins has been the subject of decades of studies, employing a multitude of techniques, but only recently has the identity and putative structure of the major zinc site on albumin been reported. Intriguingly, this site is located at the interface between two domains, and involves two residues from each of domains I and II. Comparisons of X-ray crystal structures of free and fatty-acid bound human serum albumin suggest that zinc binding to this site and fatty acid binding to one of the five major sites may be interdependent. Interactive binding of zinc and long-chain fatty acids to albumin may therefore have physiological implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1321
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical Society Transactions
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Albumin
  • Fatty acid
  • Metal specificity
  • Serum
  • Zinc trafficking


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