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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2012 Jun 15;302(12):C1780-5. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00080.2012. Epub 2012 Apr 11.

Heme carrier protein 1 transports heme and is involved in heme-Fe metabolism.

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Micronutrient Laboratory, Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.


Heme-Fe is an important source of dietary iron in humans; however, the mechanism for heme-Fe uptake by enterocytes is poorly understood. Heme carrier protein 1 (HCP1) was originally identified as mediating heme-Fe transport although it later emerged that it was a folate transporter. We asked what happened to heme-Fe and folate uptake and the relative abundance of hcp1 and ho1 mRNA in Caco-2 cells after knockdown by transfection with HCP1-directed short hairpin (sh)RNA. Control Caco-2 cells were cultured in bicameral chambers with 0-80 μM heme-Fe for selected times. Intracellular Fe and heme concentration increased in Caco-2 cells reflecting higher external heme-Fe concentrations. Maximum Fe, heme, and heme oxygenase 1 (HO1) expression and activity were observed between 12 and 24 h of incubation. Quantitative RT-PCR for hcp1 revealed that its mRNA decreased at 20 μM heme-Fe while ho1 mRNA and activity increased. When shRNA knocked down hcp1 mRNA, heme-(55)Fe uptake and [(3)H]folate transport mirrored the mRNA decrease, ho1 mRNA increased, and flvcr mRNA was unchanged. These data argue that HCP1 is involved in low-affinity heme-Fe uptake not just in folate transport.

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