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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 1;276(22):19575-9. Epub 2001 Mar 14.

A novel plant ferritin subunit from soybean that is related to a mechanism in iron release.

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Department of Bio-Science, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, 1646 Abiko, Abiko-shi, Chiba 270-1194, Japan.


Ferritin is a multimeric iron storage protein composed of 24 subunits. Ferritin purified from dried soybean seed resolves into two peptides of 26.5 and 28 kDa. To date, the 26.5-kDa subunit has been supposed to be generated from the 28-kDa subunit by cleavage of the N-terminal region. We performed amino acid sequence analysis of the 28-kDa subunit and found that it had a different sequence from the 26.5-kDa subunit, thus rendering it novel among known soybean ferritins. We cloned a cDNA encoding this novel subunit from 10-day-old seedlings, each of which contained developed bifoliates, an epicotyl and a terminal bud. The 26.5-kDa subunit was found to be identical to that identified previously lacking the C-terminal 16 residues that correspond to the E helix of mammalian ferritin. However, the corresponding region in the 28-kDa soybean ferritin subunit identified in this study was not susceptible to cleavage. We present evidence that the two different ferritin subunits in soybean dry seeds show differential sensitivity to protease digestions and that the novel, uncleaved 28-kDa ferritin subunit appears to stabilize the ferritin shell by co-existing with the cleaved 26.5-kDa subunit. These data demonstrate that soybean ferritin is composed of at least two different subunits, which have cooperative functional roles in soybean seeds.

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