Haemochromatosis protein is expressed on the terminal web of enterocytes in proximal small intestine of the rat

Adrian West, Carla Thomas, John Sadleir, Phillip Oates

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11 Citations (Scopus)


The haemochromatosis protein (HFE) is an important regulator of body iron stores. In the liver, HFE is required for appropriate expression of hepcidin, a humoral mediator of iron absorption. HFE is also present in enterocytes, though its function in the intestine is unknown; it is not intrinsically required for iron absorption, but can augment iron absorption when over-expressed-independent of hepcidin regulation by the liver. In this study, an antibody was raised against rat HFE and validated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, Western blot and quenching of antibody function by the immunising peptide. The sub-cellular location of HFE in enterocytes of iron-deficient and control rats was determined by double-labelling experiments with markers for the microvillus membrane, terminal web, early endosomes, lysosomes and the transferrin receptor. Parallel studies were performed for the primary iron absorption protein, divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1). HFE co-localised exclusively with the terminal web of intestinal enterocytes. HFE expression was increased in iron deficiency, consistent with a second regulatory role for HFE in iron absorption, independent of hepcidin from the liver. DMT1 was localised primarily on the microvillus membrane, but did partially co-localise with HFE raising the possibility that the two proteins may interact to regulate iron absorption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)online - approx 5-20pp
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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