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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2016 Jun;38:31-37. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2016.02.004. Epub 2016 Mar 25.

Mitochondrial iron overload: causes and consequences.

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States. Electronic address:


Pathological overload of iron in the mitochondrial matrix has been observed in numerous diseases, including sideroblastic anemias, which have many causes, and in genetic diseases that affect iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis, heme synthesis, and mitochondrial protein translation and its products. Although high expression of the mitochondrial iron importer, mitoferrin, appears to be an underlying common feature, it is unclear what drives high mitoferrin expression and what other proteins are involved in trapping excess toxic iron in the mitochondrial matrix. Numerous examples of human diseases and model systems suggest that mitochondrial iron homeostasis is coordinated through transcriptional remodeling. A cytosolic/nuclear molecule may affect a transcriptional factor to coordinate the events that lead to iron accumulation, but no candidates for this role have yet been identified.

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