Biological chemistry

Cell surface serine protease matriptase-2 suppresses fetuin-A/AHSG-mediated induction of hepcidin.

PMID 25205713


Matriptase-2 is a type II transmembrane serine protease controlling the expression of hepcidin, the key regulator of iron homeostasis. By cleaving hemojuvelin, matriptase-2 suppresses bone morphogenetic protein/sons of mothers against decapentaplegic signaling. So far, the only known putative substrates of matriptase-2 are hemojuvelin and matriptase-2 itself. In this study, fetuin-A (α2-Heremans-Schmid glycoprotein) was identified in vitro as a substrate of matriptase-2. The protease-substrate interaction was validated by isolating matriptase-2 via the affinity to fetuin-A. Fetuin-A is a liver-derived plasma protein with multiple functions, which is proteolytically processed to yield a disulfide-linked two-chain form. In co-transfected cells, a matriptase-2-dependent conversion of unprocessed fetuin-A into a two-chain form was detected. Conversely, downregulation of endogenously expressed matriptase-2 stabilized fetuin-A. Arg and Lys residues located within the 40 residue spanning connecting peptide of fetuin-A were identified as cleavage sites for matriptase-2. Analysis of hepcidin expression revealed an inductive effect of fetuin-A, which was abolished by matriptase-2. Fetuin-A deficiency in mice resulted in decreased hepcidin mRNA levels. These findings implicate a role of fetuin-A in iron homeostasis and provide new insights into the mechanism of how matriptase-2 might modulate hepcidin expression.