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J Biol Chem. 2013 Aug 16;288(33):23943-52. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.489500. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Transcription factors Sp1 and Hif2α mediate induction of the copper-transporting ATPase (Atp7a) gene in intestinal epithelial cells during hypoxia.

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Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.


Genes with G/C-rich promoters were up-regulated in the duodenal epithelium of iron-deficient rats including those encoding iron (e.g. Dmt1 and Dcytb) and copper (e.g. Atp7a and Mt1) metabolism-related proteins. It was shown previously that an intestinal copper transporter (Atp7a) was co-regulated with iron transport-related genes by a hypoxia-inducible transcription factor, Hif2α. In the current study, we sought to test the role of Sp1 in transcriptional regulation of Atp7a expression during iron deprivation/hypoxia. Initial studies in IEC-6 cells showed that mithramycin, an Sp1 inhibitor, reduced expression of Atp7a and iron transport-related genes (Dmt1, Dcytb, and Fpn1) and blocked their induction by CoCl2, a hypoxia mimetic. Consistent with this, overexpression of Sp1 increased endogenous Atp7a mRNA and protein expression and stimulated Atp7a, Dmt1, and Dcytb promoter activity. Site-directed mutagenesis and functional analysis of a basal Atp7a promoter construct revealed four functional Sp1 binding sites that were necessary for Hif2α-mediated induction of promoter activity. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays confirmed that Sp1 specifically interacts with the Atp7a promoter in IEC-6 cells and in rat duodenal enterocytes. This investigation has thus revealed a novel aspect of Atp7a gene regulation in which Sp1 may be necessary for the HIF-mediated induction of gene transcription during iron deficiency/hypoxia. Understanding regulation of Atp7a expression may help further clarify the physiological role of copper in the maintenance of iron homeostasis. Furthermore, this Sp1/Hif2α regulatory mechanism may have broader implications for understanding the genetic response of the intestinal epithelium to maintain whole-body iron homeostasis during states of deficiency.


Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP); Cobalt Chloride; Hypoxia-inducible Factor (HIF); IEC-6 Cells; Intestine; Iron; Transcription Coactivators

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