Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Cousins, Robert J.
Location University of Florida
Primary Field Animal, Nutritional and Applied Microbial Sciences
Secondary Field Medical Physiology and Metabolism
 Election Citation
Cousins is internationally recognized as a leading authority and investigator of zinc nutrition, metabolism, and function. He defined the hormonal and nutritional factors that regulate zinc metabolism at the cellular and molecular level and thereby significantly improved our understanding of the biological, nutritional, and clinical importance of this micronutrient.
 Research Interests
My research interests lie in the molecular and cell biology of mammalian zinc metabolism and function, which evolved from an interest in both biochemistry and nutritional sciences. My laboratory has delineated the regulation of zinc metabolism by hormones and cytokines along with those signals provided by the dietary zinc supply. These stimuli also regulate expression of metallothionein, a zinc-trafficking protein, which coordinates cellular zinc distribution. Immunological and polymerase chain reaction-based assays have been developed and are being used to examine metallothionein gene expression in humans for zinc nutritional assessment studies and for correlations with specific diseases. We are also investigating zinc transporter proteins to characterize their molecular regulation and roles in the integrative metabolism of zinc. My laboratory is also identifying zinc-responsive genes to establish the molecular basis of the dietary essentiality of this micronutrient. Using transgenic mice and other experimental models, we are also studying cysteine-rich intestinal protein, a prototype zinc finger protein, to characterize how it exchanges zinc with conjugate zinc-donating partners, including metallothionein.

 
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