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J Mol Med (Berl). 2009 May;87(5):471-80. doi: 10.1007/s00109-009-0447-2. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-responsive elements located in the proximal and distal hepcidin promoter are critical for its response to HJV/BMP/SMAD.

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Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 153, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.


The hemochromatosis proteins HFE, transferrin receptor 2 (TfR2) and hemojuvelin (HJV, HFE2) positively control expression of the major iron regulatory hormone hepcidin. HJV is a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) co-receptor that enhances the cellular response to BMP cytokines via the phosphorylation of SMAD proteins. In this study, we show that two highly conserved and sequence-identical BMP-responsive elements located at positions -84/-79 (BMP-RE1) and -2,255/-2,250 (BMP-RE2) of the human hepcidin promoter are critical for both the basal hepcidin mRNA expression and the hepcidin response to BMP-2 and BMP-6. While BMP-RE1 and BMP-RE2 show additive effects in responding to HJV-mediated BMP signals, only BMP-RE1 that is located in close proximity to a previously identified STAT-binding site is important for the hepcidin response to IL-6. These data identify a missing link between the HJV/BMP signaling pathways and hepcidin transcription, and further define the connection between inflammation and BMP-dependent hepcidin promoter activation. As such, they provide important new information furthering our understanding of disorders of iron metabolism and the anemia of inflammation.

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