Journal article

The inability of cells to grow in low iron correlates with increasing activity of their iron regulatory protein (IRP)

We studied the factors that determine the differing growth requirements of low-iron-tolerant (LIT) versus high-iron-dependent (HID) cells for extracellular nontransferrin iron. The growth of LIT cells HeLa and THP-1, when transferred from transferrin (5 micrograms/ml) medium into low-iron (5 microM ferric citrate) medium, was not significantly affected while HID cells Jiyoye and K562 showed nearly no growth. HeLa and THP-1 cells, as well as Jiyoye and K562 cells, do not produce transferrin in sufficient amounts to support their growth in low-iron medium. Surprisingly, similar rates of iron uptake in low-iron medium (0.033 and 0.032 nmol Fe/min and 10(6) cells) were found for LIT cells HeLa and HID cells K562. Furthermore, the intracellular iron level (4.64 nmol/10(6) cells) of HeLa cells grown in low-iron medium was much higher than iron levels (0.15 or 0.20 nmol/10(6) cells) of HeLa or K562 cells grown in transferrin medium. We demonstrated that the activity (ratio activated/total) of the iron regulatory protein (IRP) in HID cells Jiyoye and K562 increased more than twofold (from 0.32 to 0.79 and from 0.47 to 1.12, respectively) within 48 h after their transfer into low-iron medium. In the case of LIT cells HeLa and THP-1, IRP activity stayed at similar or slightly decreased levels (0.86-0.73 and 0.58-0.55, respectively). Addition of iron chelator deferoxamine (50 microM, i.e., about half-maximal growth-inhibitory dose) resulted in significantly increased activity of IRP also in HeLa and THP-1 cells. We hypothesize that the relatively higher bioavailability of nontransferrin iron in LIT cells, over that in HID cells, determines the differing responses observed under low-iron conditions.


    Institute of Molecular Genetics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic.


    Record created on 2008-02-25, modified on 2016-08-08


Related material


EPFL authors