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EMBO J. 1991 Jul;10(7):1903-9.

Identification of a novel iron-responsive element in murine and human erythroid delta-aminolevulinic acid synthase mRNA.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg FRG.


Iron-responsive elements (IREs) are regulatory RNA elements which are characterized by a phylogenetically defined sequence-structure motif. Their biological function is to provide a specific binding site for the IRE-binding protein (IRE-BP). Iron starvation of cells induces high affinity binding of the cytoplasmic IRE-BP to an IRE which has at least two different known biological consequences, repression of ferritin mRNA translation and stabilization of the transferrin receptor transcript. We report the identification of a novel, evolutionarily conserved IRE motif in the 5' UTR of murine and human erythroid-specific delta-aminolevulinic acid synthase (eALAS) mRNA which encodes the first, and possibly rate limiting, enzyme of the heme biosynthetic pathway. We demonstrate the function of the eALAS IRE as a specific binding site for the IRE-BP by gel retardation analyses and by in vitro translation experiments. In addition, we show that the 5' UTR of eALAS mRNA is sufficient to mediate iron-dependent translational regulation in vivo. These findings strongly suggest involvement of the IRE-IRE-BP system in the control of heme biosynthesis during erythroid differentiation.

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