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Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2011 Aug 15;47(2):133-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bcmd.2011.04.009. Epub 2011 May 25.

Liver hemojuvelin protein levels in mice deficient in matriptase-2 (Tmprss6).

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  • 1Institute of Pathophysiology and Center of Experimental Hematology, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.


Mutations of the TMPRSS6 gene, encoding the serine protease matriptase-2, lead to iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia. Matriptase-2 is a potent negative regulator of hepcidin. Based on in vitro data, it has recently been proposed that matriptase-2 decreases hepcidin synthesis by cleaving membrane hemojuvelin, a key protein of the hepcidin-regulatory pathway. However, in vivo evidence for this mechanism of action of matriptase-2 is lacking. To investigate the hemojuvelin-matriptase-2 interaction in vivo, an immunoblot assay for liver membrane hemojuvelin was optimized using hemojuvelin-mutant mice as a negative control. In wild-type mice, two hemojuvelin-specific bands of 35kDa and 20kDa were detected in mouse liver membrane fraction under reducing conditions; under non-reducing conditions, a single band of approximately 50kDa was seen. Phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C treatment confirmed binding of the detected protein to the cell membrane by a glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor, indicating that the major form of mouse liver membrane hemojuvelin is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-bound heterodimer. Unexpectedly, comparison of liver homogenates from Tmprss6+/+ and Tmprss6-/- mice revealed significantly decreased, rather than increased, hemojuvelin heterodimer content in Tmprss6-/- mice. These data do not provide direct support for the concept that matriptase-2 cleaves membrane hemojuvelin and may indicate that, in vivo, the role of matriptase-2 in the regulation of hepcidin gene expression is more complex.

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