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Iron Deficiency Sparks Dramatic Changes In Gene Expression

protecting the cell from free radicals and aging, said Thiele. "We discovered that iron deprivation actually reprograms the metabolism of the entire cell," said Thiele. "Literally hundreds of proteins require iron to carry out their proper function, so without this nutrient, there is a complete reorganization of how cellular processes occur." The cellular player responsible for the metabolic reprogramming is a protein called Cth2. Thiele's team found that iron-deprived cells overproduce Cth2. This protein binds to the gene expression machinery of more than 80 different genes and targets these molecules, called messenger RNA, to be destroyed or degraded. Without messenger RNA, a gene cannot translate its genetic code into proteins that carry out its intended functions. Thiele said the same scenario may occur in human cells, as well, to an even greater degree. His study was conducted in yeast cells because their genome is remarkably similar to that of a human cell. In fact, the Cth2 protein in yeast is quite similar to a family of three proteins in humans. When the human proteins are substituted in place of Cth2 in yeast, they actually assume its function in yeast cells, said Thiele. "Yeast cells illuminate for us what to look for in human cells," said Thiele. "Current diagnostic markers for iron deficiency aren't very sensitive, unless the deficiency is severe. Pinpointing the genes affected by iron deprivation should provide us with a genetic fingerprint of what patients with varying levels of iron deprivation look like." A patient's blood could easily be tested for specific diagnostic markers that would indicate his level of iron deprivation, he said. With diagnostic markers in place, physicians could translate the severity of the disease into the appropriate treatment.
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Source:DukeMedNews


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