Inherited microcytic-hypochromic anemias in rodents and zebrafish suggest the existence of corresponding human disorders. The zebrafish mutant shiraz has severe anemia and is embryonically lethal because of glutaredoxin 5 (GRLX5) deletion, insufficient biogenesis of mitochondrial iron-sulfur (Fe/S) clusters, and deregulated iron-regulatory protein 1 (IRP1) activity. This leads to stabilization of transferrin receptor 1 (TfR) RNA, repression of ferritin, and ALA-synthase 2 (ALAS2) translation with impaired heme synthesis. We report the first case of GLRX5 deficiency in a middle-aged anemic male with iron overload and a low number of ringed sideroblasts. A nemia was worsened by blood transfusions but partially reversed by iron chelation. The patient had a homozygous (c.294A>G) mutation that interferes with intron 1 splicing and drastically reduces GLRX5 RNA. As in shiraz, aconitase and H-ferritin levels were low and TfR level was high in the patient's cells, compatible with increased IRP1 binding. Based on the biochemical and clinical phenotype, we hypothesize that IRP2, less degraded by low heme, contributes to the repression of the erythroblasts ferritin and ALAS2, increasing mitochondrial iron. Iron chelation, redistributing iron to the cytosol, might relieve IRP2 excess, improving heme synthesis and anemia. GLRX5 function is highly conserved, but at variance with zebrafish, its defect in humans leads to anemia and iron overload.
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