Blotting Analysis of Native IRP1: A Novel Approach to Distinguish the Different Forms of IRP1 in Cells and Tissues

Alessandro Campanella, Sonia Levi, Gaetano Cairo, Giorgio Biasiotto, Paolo Arosio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Iron regulatory protein 1 (IRP1) is a bifunctional protein, which either has aconitase activity or binds to specific mRNA structures to regulate the expression of iron proteins. Using recombinant human IRP1, we found that the two functional forms are resolved by nondenaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and that they are distinguished from IRP1/RNA complexes. This allowed us to use specific antibodies to develop a blotting system that recognized the iron-free and iron-containing IRP1 forms in the soluble fraction and the RNA-bound IRP1 in the high-speed precipitate fraction of cell extracts. The system was used to study IRP1 in HeLa, K562 cells, and monocytes/ macrophages before and after treatment with iron salts, iron chelators, or hydrogen peroxide, as well as in stomach and duodenum biopsies. The results showed that iron-bound aconitase IRP1 is by far the prevalent form in most cells and that the major effect of cellular iron modifications is a shift between free and RNA-bound IRP1. The fraction of RNA-bound IRP1 was highly variable among different cells and was often a minor one. Furthermore, blotting showed that electrophoretic mobility shift assay, as commonly used, tends to under-evaluate the amount of total IRP1 and to over-evaluate the actual RNA-binding activity of IRP1. In conclusion, blotting analysis of IRP1 is a new, useful, and convenient method to analyze the amount and conformations of the protein that reveals previously undetected differences in IRP1 Compartmentalization among various cell types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 13 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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