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J Biol Chem. 2003 May 16;278(20):17646-54. Epub 2003 Mar 11.

Signaling role of intracellular iron in NF-kappaB activation.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


Iron chelators inhibit endotoxin-induced NF-kappaB activation in hepatic macrophages (HMs), suggesting a role for the intracellular chelatable pool of iron in NF-kappaB activation. The present study tested this hypothesis. Analysis of Fe(59)-loaded HMs stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), revealed a previously unreported, transient rise in intracellular low molecular weight (LMW).Fe(59) complex ([LMW.Fe](i)) at </=2 min returning to the basal level within 15 min. The [LMW.Fe](i) response preceded IkappaB kinase (IKK) (>/=15 min) and NF-kappaB (>/=30 min) activation. Iron chelators (1,2-dimethyl-3-hydroxypyridin-4-one and N,N'-bis-2-hydroxybenzylethylenediamine-N,N'-diacetic acid) abrogated the [LMW.Fe](i) response and IKK and NF-kappaB activation. The [LMW.Fe](i) response was also observed in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha)-stimulated HMs and RAW264.7 cells treated with LPS and interferon-gamma but not in primary rat hepatocytes or myofibroblastic cells exposed to LPS or TNFalpha. Both [LMW.Fe](i) response and IKK activation in LPS-stimulated HMs were inhibited by diphenylene iodonium (nonspecific inhibitor for flavin-containing oxidases), l-N(6)-(1-iminoethyl)lysine (selective iNOS inhibitor), and adenoviral-mediated expression of a dominant negative mutant of Rac1 or Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase, suggesting the role of (.)NO and O(2)() in mediating the iron signaling. In fact, this inhibition was recapitulated by a cell-permeable scavenger of ONOO(-), 5,10,15,20-tetrakis (4-sulfonatophenyl)porphyrinato iron (III) chloride. Conversely, ONOO(-) alone induced both [LMW.Fe](i) response and IKK activation. Finally, direct addition of ferrous iron to cultured HMs activated IKK and NF-kappaB. These results support a novel signaling role for [LMW.Fe](i) in IKK activation, which appears to be induced by ONOO(-) and selectively operative in macrophages.

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