Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Cloning of the cDNA encoding an RNA regulatory protein--the human iron-responsive element-binding protein.

PMID 2172968


Iron-responsive elements (IREs) are stemloop structures found in the mRNAs encoding ferritin and the transferrin receptor. These elements participate in the iron-induced regulation of the translation of ferritin and the stability of the transferrin receptor mRNA. Regulation in both instances is mediated by binding of a cytosolic protein to the IREs. High-affinity binding is seen when cells are starved of iron and results in repression of ferritin translation and inhibition of transferrin receptor mRNA degradation. The IRE-binding protein (IRE-BP) has been identified as an approximately 90-kDa protein that has been purified by both affinity and conventional chromatography. In this report we use RNA affinity chromatography and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to isolate the IRE-BP for protein sequencing. A degenerate oligonucleotide probe derived from a single peptide sequence was used to isolate a cDNA clone that encodes a protein containing 13 other sequenced peptides obtained from the IRE-BP. Consistent with previous characterization of the IRE-BP, the cDNA encodes a protein of 87 kDa with a slightly acidic pI, and the corresponding mRNA of approximately 3.6 kilobases is found in a variety of cell types. The encoded protein contains a nucleotide-binding consensus sequence and regions of cysteine and histidine clusters. This mRNA is encoded by a single gene on human chromosome 9, a finding consistent with previous localization by functional mapping. The protein contains no previously defined consensus motifs for either RNA or DNA binding. The simultaneous cloning of a different, but highly homologous, cDNA suggests that the IRE-BP is a member of a distinct gene family.