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Cell Metab. 2008 Jan;7(1):79-85. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2007.10.006.

Iron regulatory proteins are essential for intestinal function and control key iron absorption molecules in the duodenum.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1, Heidelberg, Germany.


Iron regulatory proteins (IRPs) orchestrate the posttranscriptional regulation of critical iron metabolism proteins at the cellular level. Redundancy between IRP1 and IRP2 associated with embryonic lethality of doubly IRP-deficient mice has precluded the study of IRP function in vivo. Here we use Cre/Lox technology to generate viable organisms lacking IRP expression in a single tissue, the intestine. Mice lacking intestinal IRP expression develop intestinal malabsorption and dehydration postnatally and die within 4 weeks of birth. We demonstrate that IRPs control the expression of divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1) mRNA and protein, a limiting intestinal iron importer. IRPs are also shown to be critically important to secure physiological levels of the basolateral iron exporter ferroportin. IRPs are thus essential for intestinal function and organismal survival and coordinate the synthesis of key iron metabolism proteins in the duodenum.

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