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Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2004 Sep-Oct;33(2):125-31.

Molecular analysis of iron overload in beta2-microglobulin-deficient mice.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, D-69117, Heidelberg, Germany.


Beta2-microglobulin knockout (beta2m-/-) mice represent an instructive model of spontaneous iron overload resembling genetic hemochromatosis. The mechanism of iron accumulation in this mouse model may be more complex than involving the MHC class I-like protein HFE. We report that beta2m-deficient mice, like Hfe-/- mice, lack the adaptive hepatic hepcidin mRNA increase to iron overload. The inverse correlation of hepatic iron levels and hepcidin mRNA expression in six beta2m-/- mice underlines the importance of hepcidin in regulating body iron stores. In contrast to Hfe-/- mice, beta2m-deficient mice display increased expression of the duodenal iron transporters DMT1 and ferroportin 1. This result implicates a broader role of beta2m in mammalian iron metabolism, suggesting that (an) additional beta2m-interacting protein(s) could be involved in controlling iron homeostasis, and highlighting the emerging connection of iron metabolism with the immune system.

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