Ncoa4 mediates autophagic degradation of ferritin, the cytosolic iron storage complex, to maintain intracellular iron homeostasis. Recent evidence also supports a role for Ncoa4 in systemic iron homeostasis and erythropoiesis. However, the specific contribution and temporal importance of Ncoa4-mediated ferritinophagy in regulating systemic iron homeostasis and erythropoiesis is unclear. Here, we show that Ncoa4 has a critical role in basal systemic iron homeostasis and both cell autonomous and non-autonomous roles in murine erythropoiesis. Using an inducible murine model of Ncoa4 knockout, acute systemic disruption of Ncoa4 impaired systemic iron homeostasis leading to tissue ferritin and iron accumulation, a decrease in serum iron, and anemia. Mice acutely depleted of Ncoa4 engaged the Hif2a-erythropoietin system to compensate for anemia. Mice with targeted deletion of Ncoa4 specifically in the erythroid compartment developed a pronounced anemia in the immediate postnatal stage, a mild hypochromic microcytic anemia at adult stages, and were more sensitive to hemolysis with higher requirements for the Hif2a-erythropoietin axis and extramedullary erythropoiesis during recovery. These studies demonstrate the importance of Ncoa4-mediated ferritinophagy as a regulator of systemic iron homeostasis and define the relative cell autonomous and non-autonomous contributions of Ncoa4 in supporting erythropoiesis in vivo.
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