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Blood. 2005 Mar 15;105(6):2564-70. Epub 2004 Nov 4.

The hereditary hemochromatosis protein, HFE, lowers intracellular iron levels independently of transferrin receptor 1 in TRVb cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology L215, Oregon Health and Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, Portland, OR 97239, USA.


Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is an autosomal recessive disease that leads to parenchymal iron accumulation. The most common form of HH is caused by a single amino acid substitution in the HH protein, HFE, but the mechanism by which HFE regulates iron homeostasis is not known. In the absence of transferrin (Tf), HFE interacts with transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) and the 2 proteins co-internalize, and in vitro studies have shown that HFE and Tf compete for TfR1 binding. Using a cell line lacking endogenous transferrin receptors (TRVb cells) transfected with different forms of HFE and TfR1, we demonstrate that even at low concentrations Tf competes effectively with HFE for binding to TfR1 on living cells. Transfection of TRVb cells or the derivative line TRVb1 (which stably expresses human TfR1) with HFE resulted in lower ferritin levels and decreased Fe2+ uptake. These data indicate that HFE can regulate intracellular iron storage independently of its interaction with TfR1. Earlier studies found that in HeLa cells, HFE expression lowers Tf-mediated iron uptake; here we show that HFE lowers non-Tf-bound iron in TRVb cells and add to a growing body of evidence that HFE may play different roles in different cell types.

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