Mitochondrial ferritin (FtMt) is an iron storage protein belonging to the ferritin family but, unlike the cytosolic ferritin, it has an iron-unrelated restricted tissue expression. FtMt appears to be preferentially expressed in cell types characterized by high metabolic activity and oxygen consumption, suggesting a role in protecting mitochondria from iron-dependent oxidative damage. The human gene (FTMT) is intronless and its promoter region has not been described yet. To analyze the regulatory mechanisms controlling FTMT expression, we characterized the 5′ flanking region upstream the transcriptional starting site of FTMT by in silico enquiry of sequences conservation, DNA deletion analysis, and ChIP assay. The data revealed a minimal promoter region and identified the presence of SP1, CREB and YY1 as positive regulators, and GATA2, FoxA1 and C/EBPβ as inhibitors of the transcriptional regulation. Furthermore, the FTMT transcription is increased by acetylating and de-methylating agent treatments in K562 and HeLa cells. These treatments up-regulate FtMt expression even in fibroblasts derived from a Friedreich ataxia patient, where it might exert a beneficial effect against mitochondrial oxidative damage. The expression of FTMT appears regulated by a complex mechanism involving epigenetic events and interplay between transcription factors.
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