The multicopper ferroxidase hephaestin enhances intestinal iron absorption in mice

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 4;9(6):e98792. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098792. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

Hephaestin is a vertebrate multicopper ferroxidase important for the transfer of dietary iron from intestinal cells to the blood. Hephaestin is mutated in the sex-linked anemia mouse, resulting in iron deficiency. However, sex-linked anemia mice still retain some hephaestin ferroxidase activity. They survive, breed, and their anemia improves with age. To gain a better understanding of the role of hephaestin in iron homeostasis, we used the Cre-lox system to generate knockout mouse models with whole body or intestine-specific (Villin promoter) ablation of hephaestin. Both types of mice were viable, indicating that hephaestin is not essential and that other mechanisms, multicopper ferroxidase-dependent or not, must compensate for hephaestin deficiency. The knockout strains, however, both developed a microcytic, hypochromic anemia, suggesting severe iron deficiency and confirming that hephaestin plays an important role in body iron acquisition. Consistent with this, the knockout mice accumulated iron in duodenal enterocytes and had reduced intestinal iron absorption. In addition, the similarities of the phenotypes of the whole body and intestine-specific hephaestin knockout mice clarify the important role of hephaestin specifically in intestinal enterocytes in maintaining whole body iron homeostasis. These mouse models will serve as valuable tools to study the role of hephaestin and associated proteins in iron transport in the small intestine and other tissues.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Intestinal Absorption* / genetics
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Iron / deficiency
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phenotype

Substances

  • Heph protein, mouse
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Iron