Ferritins control interaction between iron homeostasis and oxidative stress in Arabidopsis

Plant J. 2009 Feb;57(3):400-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03698.x. Epub 2008 Sep 26.


Ferritin protein nanocages are the main iron store in mammals. They have been predicted to fulfil the same function in plants but direct evidence was lacking. To address this, a loss-of-function approach was developed in Arabidopsis. We present evidence that ferritins do not constitute the major iron pool either in seeds for seedling development or in leaves for proper functioning of the photosynthetic apparatus. Loss of ferritins in vegetative and reproductive organs resulted in sensitivity to excess iron, as shown by reduced growth and strong defects in flower development. Furthermore, the absence of ferritin led to a strong deregulation of expression of several metal transporters genes in the stalk, over-accumulation of iron in reproductive organs, and a decrease in fertility. Finally, we show that, in the absence of ferritin, plants have higher levels of reactive oxygen species, and increased activity of enzymes involved in their detoxification. Seed germination also showed higher sensitivity to pro-oxidant treatments. Arabidopsis ferritins are therefore essential to protect cells against oxidative damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Ferritins / metabolism*
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Flowers / metabolism
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Germination
  • Homeostasis
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Mutation
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Leaves / physiology
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Seedlings / genetics
  • Seedlings / metabolism
  • Seedlings / physiology


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Plant
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • T-DNA
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ferritins
  • Iron