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Biochem J. 2002 May 1;363(Pt 3):449-55.

Expression of the two mRNA isoforms of the iron transporter Nramp2/DMTI in mice and function of the iron responsive element.

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INSERM U409, Faculté Xavier Bichat, BP 416, 16 Rue Henri Huchard, 75870 Paris cedex 18, France.


Nramp2/DMT1 is a transmembrane proton-coupled Fe(2+) transporter. Two different mRNAs are generated by alternative splicing; isoform I contains an iron responsive element (IRE), whereas isoform II does not. They encode two proteins differing at their C-terminal end and by their subcellular localization. IRE-mediated stabilization of isoform I mRNA is thought to stimulate DMT1 expression in response to iron deficiency. We have measured the two mRNAs by real-time quantitative PCR in several mouse tissues, in normal conditions or following injection of phenylhydrazine, a potent haemolytic agent. Isoform I mRNA is expressed in the duodenum and is induced by stimulation of erythropoiesis, whereas the non-IRE isoform is mostly induced in erythropoietic spleen. Surprisingly, both isoforms are highly expressed in the kidney and are not regulated by erythropoiesis. To evaluate the role of the IRE in regulating isoform I mRNA stability, in response to variations in cell iron status, several constructs were made in pCDNA3 with either a normal or a mutated IRE placed at the 3' end of a stable mRNA. These constructs were transfected into HT29 cells and mRNAs were analysed after growing cells in the presence or absence of exogenous iron. There was no difference in the level of expression of the different messages, suggesting that the IRE does not regulate stability of isoform I mRNA. The half-life of the endogenous IRE-mRNA was also measured following actinomycin D addition in iron- or desferrioxamine-treated cells. Decay of the mRNA was very similar in both conditions. These results suggest that additional transcriptional regulations at the promoter level, or iron-dependent regulation of alternative splicing are likely to participate in the induction of isoform I mRNA by iron deficiency.

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