Over-expression of mitochondrial ferritin affects the JAK2/STAT5 pathway in K562 cells and causes mitochondrial iron accumulation

Paolo Santambrogio, Benedetta Gaia Erba, Alessandro Campanella, Anna Cozzi, Vincenza Causarano, Laura Cremonesi, Anna Gallì, Matteo Giovanni Della Porta, Rosangela Invernizzi, Sonia Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Mitochondrial ferritin is a nuclear encoded iron-storage protein localized in mitochondria. It has anti-oxidant properties related to its ferroxidase activity, and it is able to sequester iron avidly into the organelle. The protein has a tissue-specific pattern of expression and is also highly expressed in sideroblasts of patients affected by hereditary sideroblastic anemia and by refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts. The present study examined whether mitochondrial ferritin has a role in the pathogenesis of these diseases. Design and Methods We analyzed the effect of mitochondrial ferritin over-expression on the JAK2/STAT5 pathway, on iron metabolism and on heme synthesis in erythroleukemic cell lines. Furthermore its effect on apoptosis was evaluated on human erythroid progenitors. Results Data revealed that a high level of mitochondrial ferritin reduced reactive oxygen species and Stat5 phosphorylation while promoting mitochondrial iron loading and cytosolic iron starvation. The decline of Stat5 phosphorylation induced a decrease of the level of anti-apoptotic BclxL transcript compared to that in control cells; however, transferrin receptor 1 transcript increased due to the activation of the iron responsive element/iron regulatory protein machinery. Also, high expression of mitochondrial ferritin increased apoptosis, limited heme synthesis and promoted the formation of Perls-positive granules, identified by electron microscopy as iron granules in mitochondria. Conclusions Our results provide evidence suggesting that Stat5-dependent transcriptional regulation is displaced by strong cytosolic iron starvation status induced by mitochondrial ferritin. The protein interferes with JAK2/STAT5 pathways and with the mechanism of mitochondrial iron accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1424-1432
Number of pages9
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Hereditary sideroblastic anemia
  • Iron acculumation
  • Iron starvation
  • JAK2/STA5
  • Mitochondrial ferritin
  • Refractory anemia with ringed sideblasts
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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