UCP2 modulates cell proliferation through the MAPK/ERK pathway during erythropoiesis and has no effect on heme biosynthesis

J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 7;283(45):30461-70. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M805400200. Epub 2008 Aug 7.


UCP2, an inner membrane mitochondrial protein, has been implicated in bioenergetics and reactive oxygen species (ROS) modulation. High levels of UCP2 mRNA were recently found in erythroid cells where UCP2 is hypothesized to function as a facilitator of heme synthesis and iron metabolism by reducing ROS production. We examined UCP2 protein expression and role in mice erythropoiesis in vivo. UCP2 was mainly expressed at early stages of erythroid maturation when cells are not fully committed in heme synthesis. Iron incorporation into heme was unaltered in reticulocytes from UCP2-deficient mice. Although heme synthesis was not influenced by UCP2 deficiency, mice lacking UCP2 had a delayed recovery from chemically induced hemolytic anemia. Analysis of progenitor cells from bone marrow and fetal liver both in vitro and in vivo revealed that UCP2 deficiency results in a significant decrease in cell proliferation at the erythropoietin-dependent phase of erythropoiesis. This was accompanied by reduction in the phosphorylated form of ERK, a ROS-dependent cytosolic regulator of cell proliferation. Analysis of ROS in UCP2 null erythroid cells revealed altered distribution of ROS, resulting in decreased cytosolic and increased mitochondrial ROS. Restoration of the cytosol oxidative state of erythroid progenitor cells by the pro-oxidant Paraquat reversed the effect of UCP2 deficiency on cell proliferation in in vitro differentiation assays. Together, these results indicate that UCP2 is a regulator of erythropoiesis and suggests that inhibition of UCP2 function may contribute to the development of anemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / genetics
  • Anemia / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation* / drug effects
  • Erythroid Precursor Cells / metabolism
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Erythropoiesis / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Heme / biosynthesis*
  • Heme / genetics
  • Herbicides / pharmacology
  • Ion Channels / genetics
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Paraquat / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reticulocytes / metabolism
  • Uncoupling Protein 2


  • Herbicides
  • Ion Channels
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Ucp2 protein, mouse
  • Uncoupling Protein 2
  • Heme
  • Iron
  • Paraquat