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J Biol Chem. 1995 Jan 13;270(2):700-3.

Induction of ferritin synthesis by oxidative stress. Transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation by expansion of the "free" iron pool.

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  • 1Centro di Studio sulla Patologia Cellulare, Universit√† di Milano, Italy.


Ferritin, by regulating the "free" intracellular iron pool, controls iron-catalyzed generation of reactive oxygen species, but its role in oxidative damage is still unclear. We show that ferritin synthesis is significantly stimulated in the liver of rats subjected to oxidative stress by treatment with phorone, a glutathione-depleting drug. RNA-bandshift assays document reduced activity of iron regulatory factor, in particular of IRFB, the cytoplasmic protein that post-transcriptionally controls ferritin mRNA translation. Furthermore, Northern blot analysis shows increased accumulation of H and L subunit mRNAs, and nuclear run-on experiments provide evidence of transcriptional activation. Direct measurements of intracellular free iron levels by EPR indicate that the increased ferritin synthesis can be mediated by an expansion of the free iron pool. An early drop of ferritin content after phorone treatment indicates that part of the iron that fuels the free pool might derive from ferritin degradation. Present data seem to suggest that, under conditions of oxidative stress, liver ferritin can represent either a pro- or an anti-oxidant in a time-dependent manner. In fact, its early degradation contributes to expand the intracellular free iron pool that, later on, activates multiple molecular mechanisms to reconstitute ferritin content, thus limiting the pro-oxidant challenge of iron.

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