Identification of the iron-responsive element for the translational regulation of human ferritin mRNA

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Science  11 Dec 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4833, pp. 1570-1573
DOI: 10.1126/science.3685996


Regulated translation of messenger RNA offers an important mechanism for the control of gene expression. The biosynthesis of the intracellular iron storage protein ferritin is translationally regulated by iron. A cis-acting element that is both necessary and sufficient for this translational regulation is present within the 5' nontranslated leader region of the human ferritin H-chain messenger RNA. In this report the iron-responsive element (IRE) was identified by deletional analysis. Moreover, a synthetic oligodeoxynucleotide was shown to be able to transfer iron regulation to a construct that would otherwise not be able to respond to iron. The IRE has been highly conserved and predates the evolutionary segregation between amphibians, birds, and man. The IRE may prove to be useful for the design of translationally regulated expression systems.