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J Biol Chem. 2007 Mar 23;282(12):8658-66. Epub 2007 Jan 16.

A multicopper ferroxidase involved in iron binding to transferrins in Dunaliella salina plasma membranes.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


The halotolerant alga Dunaliella salina is unique among plants in that it utilizes a transferrin (TTf) to mediate iron acquisition (Fisher, M., Zamir, A., and Pick, U. (1998) J. Biol. Chem. 273, 17553-17558). Two new proteins that are induced by iron deprivation were identified in plasma membranes of D. salina as follows: a multicopper ferroxidase termed D-Fox and an internally duplicated glycoprotein (p130B). D-Fox and p130B are accessible to glycolytic, proteolytic, and biotin surface tagging treatments, suggesting that they are surface-exposed glycoproteins. Induction of D-Fox was also manifested by ferroxidase activity in plasma membrane preparations. These results are puzzling because ferroxidases in yeast and in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii function in redox-mediated iron uptake, a mechanism that is not known to operate in D. salina. Two lines of evidence suggest that D-Fox and p130B interact with D. salina triplicated transferrin (TTf). First, chemical cross-linking combined with mass spectroscopy analysis showed that D-Fox and p130B associate with TTf and with another plasma membrane transferrin. Second, detergent-solubilized D-Fox and p130B comigrated on blue native gels with plasma membrane transferrins. 59Fe autoradiography indicated that this complex binds Fe3+ ions. Also, the induction of D-Fox and p130B is kinetically correlated with enhanced iron binding and uptake activities. These results suggest that D-Fox and p130B associate with plasma membrane transferrins forming a complex that enhances iron binding and iron uptake. We propose that the function of D-Fox in D. salina has been modified during evolution from redox-mediated to transferrin-mediated iron uptake, following a gene transfer event of transferrins from an ancestral animal cell.

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