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J Biol Chem. 1993 Mar 15;268(8):5974-8.

Translational control of 5-aminolevulinate synthase mRNA by iron-responsive elements in erythroid cells.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany.


Hemoglobin synthesis in red cells is the major iron utilization pathway in the human body and accounts for > 80% of systemic iron turnover. The first step in erythroid heme biosynthesis is catalyzed by a tissue-specific isoform of 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS). The previous identification of iron-responsive elements in the 5'-untranslated region of human and murine erythroid ALAS mRNA raised the intriguing possibility that eALAS expression might be under iron-dependent translational control. As a consequence, a single post-transcriptional regulatory system could coordinate cellular iron acquisition via the transferrin receptor, storage via ferritin, and utilization via eALAS. We directly demonstrate iron-dependent translational regulation of eALAS mRNA in murine erythroleukemia (MEL) cells. The iron-responsive element motif contained in eALAS mRNA is shown to be sufficient to confer translational control to a reporter mRNA both in transfected MEL cells and in vitro.

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