Post-translational regulation of AtFER2 ferritin in response to intracellular iron trafficking during fruit development in Arabidopsis

Mol Plant. 2009 Sep;2(5):1095-106. doi: 10.1093/mp/ssp041. Epub 2009 Jun 19.


Ferritins are major players in plant iron homeostasis. Surprisingly, their overexpression in transgenic plants led only to a moderate increase in seed iron content, suggesting the existence of control checkpoints for iron loading and storage in seeds. This work reports the identification of two of these checkpoints. First, measurement of seed metal content during fruit development in Arabidopsis thaliana reveals a similar dynamic of loading for Fe, Mn, Cu, and Zn. The step controlling metal loading into the seed occurs by the regulation of transport from the hull to the seed. Second, metal loading and ferritin abundance were monitored in different genetic backgrounds affected in vacuolar iron transport (AtVIT1, AtNRAMP3, AtNRAMP4) or plastid iron storage (AtFER1 to 4). This approach revealed (1) a post-translational regulation of ferritin accumulation in seeds, and (2) that ferritin stability depends on the balance of iron allocation between vacuoles and plastids. Thus, the success of ferritin overexpression strategies for iron biofortification, a promising approach to reduce iron-deficiency anemia in developing countries, would strongly benefit from the identification and engineering of mechanisms enabling the translocation of high amounts of iron into seed plastids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ferritins / genetics
  • Ferritins / metabolism*
  • Fruit* / growth & development
  • Fruit* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant* / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant* / physiology
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Plastids / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Vacuoles / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Ferritins
  • Iron