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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Lack of coordinate control of ferritin and transferrin receptor expression during rat liver regeneration.

Transferrin receptor ( TfR) and ferritin, key proteins of cellular iron metabolism, are coordinately and divergently controlled by cytoplasmic proteins (iron regulatory proteins, IRP-1 and IRP-2) that bind to conserved mRNA motifs called iron-responsive elements (IRE). IRP, in response to specific stimuli (low iron levels, growth and stress signals) are activated and prevent TfR mRNA degradation and ferritin mRNA translation by hindering ferritin mRNA binding to polysomes. We previously found that, in regenerating liver, IRP activation was accompanied by increased TfR mRNA levels, but not by reduced ferritin expression. The basis for this unexpected behavior was investigated in the present study. Liver regeneration triggered by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) stimulated by four- to fivefold the synthesis of both L and H ferritin chains. This increase was accompanied with a transcriptionally regulated twofold rise in the amount of ferritin mRNAs. Moreover, polysome-associated ferritin transcripts were fourfold higher in CCl4-treated animals than in control animals. Because RNA bandshift assays showed a fourfold increase in IRP-2 binding activity after CCl4 administration, activated IRP in regenerating liver seemed unable to prevent ferritin mRNAs binding to polysomes. This was confirmed by direct demonstration in the wheat germ translation system that the efficiency of IRP as a translational repressor of a mRNA bearing an IRE motif in front of a reporter transcript is impaired in CCl4-treated rats in spite of an enhanced IRE-binding capacity. In conclusion, we show for the first time that the paradigm of coordinate and opposite control of ferritin and TfR by IRP is contradicted in liver regeneration. Under these circumstances, growth-dependent signals may activate ferritin gene transcription and at the same time hamper the ability of activated IRP-2 to repress translation of ferritin mRNAs, thus preserving for growing liver cells an essential iron-storage compartment.[1]


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