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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Dec;36(12):921-33. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

Molecular characterization of iron binding proteins from Glossina morsitans morsitans (Diptera: Glossinidae).

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


The regulation of iron is critical for maintaining homeostasis in the tsetse fly (Diptera: Glossinidae), in which both adult sexes are strict blood feeders. We have characterized the cDNAs for two putative iron-binding proteins (IBPs) involved in transport and storage; transferrin (GmmTsf1) and ferritin from Glossina morsitans morsitans. GmmTsf1 transcripts are detected in the female fat body and in adult reproductive tissues, and only in the adult developmental stage in a bloodmeal independent manner. In contrast, the ferritin heavy chain (GmmFer1HCH) and light chain (GmmFer2LCH) transcripts are expressed ubiquitously, suggesting a more general role for these proteins in iron transport and storage. Protein domain predictions for each IBP suggest both the conservation and loss of several motifs present in their vertebrate homologues. In concert with many other described insect transferrins (Tfs), putative secreted GmmTsf1 maintains 3 of the 5 residues necessary for iron-binding in the N-terminal lobe, but exhibits a loss of this iron-binding ability in the C-terminal lobe as well as a loss of large sequence blocks. Both putative GmmFer1HCH and GmmFer2LCH proteins have signal peptides, similar to other insect ferritins. GmmFer2LCH has lost the 5'UTR iron-responsive element (IRE) and, thus, translation is no longer regulated by cellular iron levels. On the other hand, GmmFer1HCH maintains both the conserved ferroxidase center and the 5'UTR IRE; however, transcript variants suggest a more extensive regulatory mechanism for this subunit.

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