Post-Transcriptional Regulation of Gene Expression by Iron

  • Matthias W. Hentze
Part of the Progress in Gene Expression book series (PRGE)


Heavy metals play an ambivalent role in biology: their toxicity threatens cellular integrity, but they are required as cofactors for many biological reactions. This situation necessitates the regulation of heavy metal acquisition, storage and utilization in response to supply and demand. A common safeguard system, metallothionein, binds and detoxifies most heavy metals and is transcriptionally induced by cellular exposure to these (see Chapter 7). In contrast, cells have evolved exclusive regulatory networks for the second most common heavy metal, iron. The task of coordinating iron uptake, storage and utilization has been solved differently by bacteria, yeast and multicellular eukaryotic organisms. In E. coli, the transcription of genes involved in iron metabolism, including those for a secreted iron chelator (a siderophore) and a siderophore receptor, is regulated by the iron-containing repressor protein FUR (Braun et al, 1991). In S. cerevisiae, a ferric reductase/ ferrous iron transporter system localized on the cell surface mediates iron acquisition. Its expression is also transcriptionally regulated by iron (Dancis et al, 1992). The regulation of iron storage and utilization in Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae is less well understood than its uptake.


Transferrin Receptor Aconitase Activity Ferritin mRNA Mitochondrial Aconitase Cellular Iron Metabolism 
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© Birkhäuser Boston 1995

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  • Matthias W. Hentze

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