The iron-responsive element binding protein. Purification, cloning, and regulation in rat liver

Y. Yu, E. Radisky, E. A. Leibold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The iron-responsive element binding protein (IRE-BP) is a cytosolic protein that binds a highly conserved sequence in the untranslated regions of mRNAs involved in iron metabolism including ferritin, transferrin receptor, and erythroid 5-aminolevulinate acid synthase. This conserved sequence is termed the iron-responsive element and is necessary for the post- transcriptional regulation of these mRNAs by iron. The rat liver IRE-BP was purified to homogeneity by chromatographic methods and partial amino acid sequence was obtained. A cDNA was isolated from a rat liver cDNA library and sequenced. The amino acid sequence deduced from the cDNA sequence corresponds to a protein of 889 amino acids with a predicted molecular weight of 97,946. The NH2-terminal sequence obtained by Edman degradation matched the deduced amino acid sequence obtained from the cDNA, confirming the translational start site. Rat liver IRE-BP shares 95% identity with human IRE-BP and 98% identity with mouse IRE-BP indicating that the IRE-BPs have remained highly conserved during evolution. The 5'-untranslated region is at least 236 nucleotides and contains interesting structural features including two direct repeats, an inverted repeat, and three small open reading frames. The rat IRE-BP mRNA is approximately 3600 nucleotides and is expressed in a variety of rat tissues including liver, spleen, and gut. Over the course of 16 h following an intraperitoneal injection of iron in rats, IRE-BP RNA binding activity decreases to 50% of control levels. The decrease in IRE-BP RNA binding activity in extracts from iron-treated rats is reversible by pretreatment of the extracts with reducing agents. The steady-state levels of IRE-BP mRNA remain constant during iron treatment. These data suggest that the decrease in IRE-BP RNA binding activity by iron in rat liver is due to post-translational changes in the RNA binding affinity of the IRE-BP and not due a decrease in the transcription of the IRE-BP gene or to the destabilization of the IRE-BP mRNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19005-19010
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number26
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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