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J Biol Chem. 2007 Dec 21;282(51):36862-70. Epub 2007 Oct 23.

HFE modulates transferrin receptor 2 levels in hepatoma cells via interactions that differ from transferrin receptor 1-HFE interactions.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239, USA.


Mutations in the transmembrane glycoproteins transferrin receptor 2 (TfR2) and HFE are associated with hereditary hemochromatosis. Interactions between HFE and transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) have been mapped to the alpha1- and alpha2-helices in HFE and to the helical domain of TfR1. Recently, TfR2 was also reported to interact with HFE in transfected mammalian cells. To test whether similar HFE residues are important for both TfR1 and TfR2 binding, a mutant form of HFE (W81AHFE) that has an approximately 5,000-fold lower affinity for TfR1 than HFE was employed. As expected, W81AHFE does not interact with TfR1. However, we found that the same mutation in HFE does not affect the TfR2/HFE interaction. This finding indicates that the TfR2/HFE and TfR1/HFE interactions are distinct. We further observed that, unlike TfR1/HFE, Tf does not compete with HFE for binding to TfR2 and that binding is independent of pH (pH 6-7.5). TfR2-TfR1 and HFE-HLA-B7 chimeras were generated to map the domains of the TfR2/HFE interaction. TfR1 and HLA-B7 were chosen because of their similar overall structures with TfR2 and HFE, respectively. We mapped the interacting domains to the putative stalk and protease-like domains of TfR2 located between residues 104 and 250 and to the alpha3 domain of HFE, both of which differ from the TfR1/HFE interacting domains. Furthermore, we found that HFE increases TfR2 levels in hepatic cells independent of holo-Tf.

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