Hepcidin regulates iron homeostasis by controlling the level of ferroportin, the only membrane channel that facilitates export of iron from within cells. Binding of hepcidin to ferroportin induces the ubiquitination of ferroportin at multiple lysine residues and subsequently causes the internalization and degradation of the ligand-channel complex within lysosomes. The objective of this study was to identify components of the ubiquitin system that are involved in ferroportin degradation. A HepG2 cell line, which inducibly expresses ferroportin-GFP (FPN-GFP), was established to test the ability of siRNAs directed against components of the ubiquitin system to prevent BMP6- and exogenous hepcidin-induced ferroportin degradation. Of the 88 siRNAs directed against components of the ubiquitin pathway that were tested, siRNAmediated depletion of the alternative E1 enzyme UBA6 as well as the adaptor protein NDFIP1 prevented BMP6- and hepcidin- induced degradation of ferroportin in vitro. A third component of the ubiquitin pathway, ARIH1, indirectly inhibited ferroportin degradation by impairing BMP6 mediated induction of hepcidin. In mice, the AAVmediated silencing of Ndfip1 in the murine liver increased the level of hepatic ferroportin and increased circulating iron. The results suggest that the E1 enzyme UBA6 and the adaptor protein NDFIP1 are involved in iron homeostasis by regulating the degradation of ferroportin. These specific components of the ubiquitin system may be promising targets for the treatment of iron related diseases, including iron overload and anemia of inflammation.
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