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J Biol Chem. 2008 May 9;283(19):12701-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M800713200. Epub 2008 Mar 17.

Non-transferrin iron reduction and uptake are regulated by transmembrane ascorbate cycling in K562 cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria 3800, Australia.


K562 erythroleukemia cells import non-transferrin-bound iron (NTBI) by an incompletely understood process that requires initial iron reduction. The mechanism of NTBI ferrireduction remains unknown but probably involves transplasma membrane electron transport. We here provide evidence for a novel mechanism of NTBI reduction and uptake by K562 cells that utilizes transplasma membrane ascorbate cycling. Incubation of cells with dehydroascorbic acid, but not ascorbate, resulted in (i) accumulation of intracellular ascorbate that was blocked by the glucose transporter inhibitor, cytochalasin B, and (ii) subsequent release of micromolar concentrations of ascorbate into the external medium via a route that was sensitive to the anion channel inhibitor, 4,4'-diisothiocyanatostilbene-2,2'-disulfonate. Ascorbate-deficient control cells demonstrated low levels of ferric citrate reduction. However, incubation of the cells with dehydroascorbic acid resulted in a dose-dependent stimulation of both iron reduction and uptake from radiolabeled [(55)Fe]ferric citrate. This stimulation was abrogated by ascorbate oxidase treatment, suggesting dependence on direct chemical reduction by ascorbate. These results support a novel model of NTBI reduction and uptake by K562 cells in which uptake is preceded by reduction of iron by extracellular ascorbate, the latter of which is subsequently regenerated by transplasma membrane ascorbate cycling.

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