Matriptase-2 regulates iron homeostasis primarily by setting the basal levels of hepatic hepcidin expression through a nonproteolytic mechanism

J Biol Chem. 2023 Oct;299(10):105238. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2023.105238. Epub 2023 Sep 9.


Matriptase-2 (MT2), encoded by TMPRSS6, is a membrane-anchored serine protease. It plays a key role in iron homeostasis by suppressing the iron-regulatory hormone, hepcidin. Lack of functional MT2 results in an inappropriately high hepcidin and iron-refractory iron-deficiency anemia. Mt2 cleaves multiple components of the hepcidin-induction pathway in vitro. It is inhibited by the membrane-anchored serine protease inhibitor, Hai-2. Earlier in vivo studies show that Mt2 can suppress hepcidin expression independently of its proteolytic activity. In this study, our data indicate that hepatic Mt2 was a limiting factor in suppressing hepcidin. Studies in Tmprss6-/- mice revealed that increases in dietary iron to ∼0.5% were sufficient to overcome the high hepcidin barrier and to correct iron-deficiency anemia. Interestingly, the increased iron in Tmprss6-/- mice was able to further upregulate hepcidin expression to a similar magnitude as in wild-type mice. These results suggest that a lack of Mt2 does not impact the iron induction of hepcidin. Additional studies of wild-type Mt2 and the proteolytic-dead form, fMt2S762A, indicated that the function of Mt2 is to lower the basal levels of hepcidin expression in a manner that primarily relies on its nonproteolytic role. This idea is supported by the studies in mice with the hepatocyte-specific ablation of Hai-2, which showed a marginal impact on iron homeostasis and no significant effects on iron regulation of hepcidin. Together, these observations suggest that the function of Mt2 is to set the basal levels of hepcidin expression and that this process is primarily accomplished through a nonproteolytic mechanism.

Keywords: hai-2; hepatocyte; hepcidin; homeostasis; hormone; iron; matriptase-2; serine protease.