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J Mol Med (Berl). 2015 May;93(5):489-98. doi: 10.1007/s00109-015-1253-7. Epub 2015 Jan 23.

Hfe and Hjv exhibit overlapping functions for iron signaling to hepcidin.

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Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, and Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.


Functional inactivation of HFE or hemojuvelin (HJV) is causatively linked to adult or juvenile hereditary hemochromatosis, respectively. Systemic iron overload results from inadequate expression of hepcidin, the iron regulatory hormone. While HJV regulates hepcidin by amplifying bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, the role of HFE in the hepcidin pathway remains incompletely understood. We investigated the pathophysiological implications of combined Hfe and Hjv ablation in mice. Isogenic Hfe (-)/(-) and Hjv (-)/(-) mice were crossed to generate double Hfe (-)/(-) Hjv (-)/(-) progeny. Wild-type control and mutant mice of all genotypes were analyzed for serum, hepatic, and splenic iron content, expression of iron metabolism proteins, and expression of hepcidin and Smad signaling in the liver, in response to a standard or an iron-enriched diet. As expected, Hfe (-)/(-) and Hjv (-)/(-) mice developed relatively mild or severe iron overload, respectively, which corresponded to the degree of hepcidin inhibition. The double Hfe (-)/(-) Hjv (-)/(-) mice exhibited an indistinguishable phenotype to single Hjv (-)/(-) counterparts with regard to suppression of hepcidin, serum and hepatic iron overload, splenic iron deficiency, tissue iron metabolism, and Smad signaling, under both dietary regimens. We conclude that the hemochromatotic phenotype caused by disruption of Hjv is not further aggravated by combined Hfe/Hjv deficiency. Our results provide genetic evidence that Hfe and Hjv operate in the same pathway for the regulation of hepcidin expression and iron metabolism.


Combined disruption of Hfe and Hjv phenocopies single Hjv deficiency. Single Hjv(-)/(-) and double Hfe(-)/(-)Hjv(-)/(-) mice exhibit comparable iron overload. Hfe and Hjv regulate hepcidin via the same pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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