Iron Regulatory Proteins as NO Signal Transducers

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Science's STKE  13 May 2003:
Vol. 2003, Issue 182, pp. pe17
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2003.182.pe17

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The iron regulatory proteins (IRPs) are an example of different proteins regulating the same metabolic process, iron uptake and metabolism. IRP1 is an iron-sulfur cluster-containing protein that can be converted from a cytosolic aconitase to an RNA binding posttranscriptional regulator in response to nitric oxide (NO). IRP2 lacks aconitase activity and its expression is decreased by NO signaling. In macrophages, NO is produced in response to such inflammatory ligands as interferon-γ, which is expressed in response to mitogenic and antigenic stimuli, and lipopolysaccharide, a marker of bacterial invasion. Until recently, research results predict that the cellular response to increased NO production should be a decrease in ferritin synthesis, due to IRP1 binding to ferritin mRNA, and an increase in transferrin receptor biosynthesis, due to IRP1 binding to the transferrin mRNA. Surprisingly, however, macrophages exhibit decreased transferrin receptor concentration in response to inflammatory ligands. Bouton and Drapier discuss the physiological role and the mechanisms that may underlie this contradictory response.

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