Divalent metal transporter 1

Hematology. 2005 Aug;10(4):339-45. doi: 10.1080/10245330500093419.


In the last few years, the field of iron metabolism has exploded with the discovery of many new proteins including ferroportin, hephaestin, hepcidin, duodenal cytochrome b and the topic of this review, divalent metal ion transporter 1 (DMT1). DMT1 functions in transport of ferrous iron, and some, but not all divalent metal ions across the plasma membrane and/or out of the endosomal compartment. DMT1 mRNA has been found in every cell type in which it has been sought and its structure is highly conserved in evolution with similar proteins expressed in plants, insects, microorganisms and vertebrate animals. Rodents with defects in iron absorption and utilization were identified long before it was determined that the defect was due to a single nucleotide mutation in DMT1. Study of these animals reveals that transport of iron and other divalent metal ions by DMT1 is pH dependent, but the exact manner in which pH exerts its effect is unknown. The structure of the DMT1 gene is complex. Alternative usage of 3' exons, results in forms with and without iron responsive elements (IREs), while alternative usage of 5' exons and less well defined products of alternative splicing results in an array of isoforms with incompletely defined function. Expression of some isoforms is tissue specific and appears to affect subcellular targeting of the protein. At least one signal for DMT1 expression appears to be intracellular iron status, however, other, as yet undefined signals may also contribute to DMT1 expression. Interestingly, DMT1 function may differ subtly between humans and other animals; the spontaneous DMT1 mutation found in mice and rats appears to limit iron uptake in the intestine and iron utilization in red cell precursors, whereas the only known human mutation has its primary effect on iron utilization by erythroid cells. The importance of DMT1 function at the level of the whole organism and the individual cell and mechanisms of its regulation on a molecular scale are only beginning to be understood; an appreciation of these process will lead to an understanding of the role of iron in various cellular processes and improved treatments for both anemia and iron-overload.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / genetics
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Ion Transport / genetics
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Overload / genetics
  • Iron Overload / metabolism
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Rats


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Iron-Binding Proteins
  • solute carrier family 11- (proton-coupled divalent metal ion transporters), member 2
  • Iron