While iron is essential for cell growth and survival excess iron through oxidative stress may produce hepatitic cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, diabetes mellitus, and cardiomyopathy. Iron is absorbed across the duodenum with transport across the brush border mediated by DMT1 and across the basolateral surface by ferroportin with mechanisms that are inversely regulated by body iron concentrations. We have identified in rat intestine DAP, a novel protein that binds to the C-terminus of DMT1 (IRE) but not to the C-terminus of the non-IRE isoform (

, Nov
). DAP is a 526 amino acid protein that has been previously described as binding to the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor, an intrinsic mitochondrial protein involved in steriodogenesis and possibly in protoporphyrin IX transport into the mitochrondria. To investigate if DAP may have a role in regulation of intracellular iron transport DAP expression was down regulated using a vector containing a siRNA for DAP transfected into K562 cells by electroporation. Expression levels of DAP, transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1), divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1) and ferritin were examined by western blot and quantitative quantitivative PCR assays from days 1 to 6 after transfection. Following transfection with the DAP siRNA DAP mRNA levels were decreased 50% by day 1 with DAP protein levels decreasing by 50% at day 3. The DAP siRNA also decreased DMT1 protein expression by about 50% for the DMT1 (IRE) protein but had no effect on the protein derived from the non-IRE isoform. The leels of DMT1 mRNA were not affected by DAP siRNA. The decrease of DAP expression was not associated with any change in TfR1 or ferritin expression, suggesting that altered levels of DAP did not affect intracellular iron pools. Transfection with the DAP siRNA resulted also in more protean effects decreasing cell proliferation, the transition from S-phase to G2 in cell cycle, and protein synthesis. These data are consistent with DAP regulating DMT1 expression in K562 cells by modulating turnover of DMT1 (IRE) protein and also having more global effects on cellular metabolism.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.