The hereditary hemochromatosis protein, HFE, specifically regulates transferrin-mediated iron uptake in HeLa cells

Cindy N. Roy, David M. Penny, John N. Feder, Caroline A. Enns

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Abstract

HFE is the protein product of the gene mutated in the autosomal recessive disease hereditary hemochromatosis (Feder, J. N., Gnirke, A., Thomas, W., Tsuchihashi, Z., Ruddy, D. A., Basava, A., Dormishian, F., Domingo, R. J., Ellis, M. C., Fullan, A., Hinton, L. M., Jones, N. L., Kimmel, B. E., Kronmal, G. S., Lauer, P., Lee, V. K., Loeb, D. B., Mapa, F. A., McClelland, E., Meyer, N. C., Mintier, G. A., Moeller, N., Moore, T., Morikang, E., Prasss, C. E., Quintana, L., Starnes, S. M., Schatzman, R. C., Brunke, K. J., Drayna, D. T., Risch, N. J., Bacon, B. R., and Wolff, R. R. (1996) Nat. Genet. 13, 399-408). At the cell surface, HFE complexes with transferrin receptor (TfR), increasing the dissociation constant of transferrin (Tf) for its receptor 10-fold (Gross, C. N., Irrinki, A., Feder, J. N., and Enns, C. A. (1998) J. Biol. Chem. 273, 22068-22074; Feder, J. N., Penny, D. M., Irrinki, A., Lee, V. K., Lebron, J. A., Watson, N., Tsuchihashi, Z., Sigal, E., Bjorkman, P. J., and Schatzman, R. C. (1998) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A 95, 1472-1477). HFE does not remain at the cell surface, but traffics with TfR to Tf-positive internal compartments (Gross et al., 1998). Using a HeLa cell line in which the expression of HFE is controlled by tetracycline, we show that the expression of HFE reduces 55Fe uptake from Tf by 33% but does not affect the endocytic or exocytic rates of TfR cycling. Therefore, HFE appears to reduce cellular acquisition of iron from Tf within endocytic compartments. HFE specifically reduces iron uptake from Tf, as non-Tf-mediated iron uptake from Fe-nitrilotriacetic acid is not altered. These results explain the decreased ferritin levels seen in our HeLa cell system and demonstrate the specific control of life over the Tf-mediated pathway of iron uptake. These results also have implications for the understanding of cellular iron homeostasis in organs such as the liver, pancreas, heart, and spleen that are iron loaded in hereditary hemochromatotic individuals lacking functional HFE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9022-9028
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume274
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 26 1999

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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