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Montana State University researchers map iron transport protein
Date:5/20/2008

Montana State University scientists in the Department of Chemistry and Bio-chemistry published new research this week that could one day affect the lives of millions around the world who suffer from blood iron disorders.

The paper, which will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, details the work of Associate Professor Martin Lawrence and doctoral candidate Anoop Sendamarai. The pair have spent the past two years studying Steap3, a protein involved in regulating the bodys absorption of iron.

The results of their studies the first three-dimensional maps of the atoms that make up Steap3 could allow pharmaceutical companies to someday design drugs to regulate iron levels in the blood.

Iron is essential, Lawrence said. You cant live without it, but its a double-edged sword. Too much of a good thing can kill you.

Iron serves several important functions in the bloodstream. It carries oxygen, transports electrons within cells and plays an important role in enzyme systems.

Iron irregularities are some of the most common blood disorders in the world. According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia, affects more than a billion people around the world and can cause developmental and immune system problems.

Conversely, having too much iron, a condition called hemochromatosis, can also hurt the body by releasing destructive free radicals, Lawrence said. Hemochromatosis affects about one in every 300 people and is most common in people of northern European ancestry. Left untreated, it can lead to early death, often by age 50.

Were struck by how many people have too much or too little iron, Lawrence said.

To understand Steap3s role in transporting and maintaining balanced levels of iron, Lawrence and Sendamarai first had find and purify samples of the protein and then turn those samples into crystals.

Lawrence said the result of t
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Contact: Michael Becker
becker@montana.edu
406-994-5140
Montana State University
Source:Eurekalert

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