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J Biol Chem. 1989 Oct 25;264(30):17637-40.

Receptor-mediated transport of heme by hemopexin regulates gene expression in mammalian cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisiana State University Medical Center, New Orleans 70112.


Hemopexin (HPX) transports heme to liver parenchymal cells, undergoes receptor-mediated endocytosis, and recycles intact. Incubation of mouse hepatoma (Hepa) cells with heme-HPX causes a rapid dose- and time-dependent increase in the steady-state level of heme oxygenase (HO) mRNA. A maximum induction of 20-25-fold is achieved within 3 h after incubation with 10 microM heme-HPX. This accumulation of HO mRNA results primarily from increased transcription of the HO gene as judged by in vitro nuclear run-on assays. In addition, receptor-mediated transport of heme into Hepa cells significantly decreases the steady-state level of transferrin receptor (TfR) mRNA. While a 25-30-fold decrease in the amount of TfR mRNA is observed within 3 h of incubation of Hepa cells with 10 microM heme-HPX, no significant change in the rate of TfR gene transcription was detected. These regulatory effects of heme-HPX are not restricted to hepatic cells but are also observed in human promyelocytic HL-60 cells. This is the first direct demonstration of receptor-mediated transport of heme by hemopexin regulating gene expression in mammalian cells.

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