• A case report of spontaneous mutation (C33>U) in the iron-responsive element of L-ferritin causing hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome.

      Cao, Wei; McMahon, Mary; Wang, Bo; O'Connor, Rosemary; Clarkson, Michael; Cell Biology Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. caowei_111@yahoo.com.cn (Elsevier, 2010-01-15)
      The hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome (HHCS) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by juvenile-onset cataracts and elevated serum ferritin levels. It is caused by mutation in the iron response element (IRE) within the 5'UTR of L-ferritin gene. The mutation results in a loss of post-transcriptional negative feedback exerted by the interaction between iron regulatory proteins 1, 2 (IRP1 and IRP2) and IRE, which leads to uncontrolled expression of L-ferritin. In this paper, we describe the molecular pathogenesis of non-hereditary hyperferritinemia cataract syndrome (non-H-HCS) in a patient with typical HHCS ocular lens morphology and high ferritin levels without obvious family history. Initial sequencing of the full-length L-ferritin cloned from genomic DNA demonstrated a mutation (C33>T) in the IRE of the affected patient but not in her unaffected family members. The mutation (C/T heterozygote) was also detected in cDNA derived from her blood mononuclear cells. Structure-prediction-modeling indicates that this mutation would significantly alter the secondary structure of the IRE, resulting in a loss of the interaction between IRP and IRE. By using IRP1/IRP2-human IgG1 Fc fusion proteins, we established a novel in vitro report system (modified ELISA) to verify impaired IRE/IRP binding. Both the C33>U and A40G mutations (the first identified mutation for HHCS) showed a dramatically decreased binding to IRP1/IRP2 protein, compared to the normal IRE RNA. Surprisingly, a decrease in L-ferritin mRNA levels was observed in the affected patient compared to controls suggesting a mechanism of transcriptional negative feedback by high intracellular L-ferritin protein levels not described heretofore. Taken together, spontaneous mutation in the IRE of L-ferritin may cause non-H-HCS by the same mechanism as HHCS. In addition, under abnormal circumstances, the protein level of L-ferritin may be principally controlled by post-transcriptional regulation rather than the transcriptional regulation. The successful establishment of an ELISA report system provides an alternative method to evaluate precisely the interaction between protein and RNA.
    • Tim-4 inhibition of T-cell activation and T helper type 17 differentiation requires both the immunoglobulin V and mucin domains and occurs via the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway.

      Cao, Wei; Ryan, Michelle; Buckley, Deirdre; O'Connor, Rosemary; Clarkson, Michael R; Immunology, Moffitt Cancer Center Department of Biochemistry Department of Renal Medicine, Cork University Hospital, University College Cork, Ireland. (2011-06)
      Emerging experimental data suggest an important role for the T-cell immunoglobulin mucin 1 (Tim-1):Tim-4 pathway in autoimmune and alloimmune responses in vivo. Using a Tim-4 ectodomain human IgG Fc fusion protein we studied the role of Tim-4 in T-cell activation, signalling and differentiation responses in vitro. We demonstrate that Tim-4Fc can inhibit naive and pre-activated T-cell activation, proliferation and cytokine secretion via a Tim-1-independent pathway. Tim-4 contains immunoglobulin variable (IgV) and mucin domains; to identify which domain accounts for the inhibitory effect novel Tim-4 fusion proteins containing either the IgV or mucin domain were generated. We demonstrate that both IgV and mucin domains are required for the inhibitory effects and that they are mediated at least in part by inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway activity. Given the emerging interest in the role of the Tim family in T helper type 17 (Th17) cells, which play an important role in autoimmune disease and transplantation tolerance, our data show that Tim-4Fc can prevent polarization of CD4(+) T cells to the Th17 phenotype. Collectively, our results highlight an inhibitory role for Tim-4Fc in vitro, which we propose is mediated by a receptor other than Tim-1. In addition, this study provides new insights into the role of Tim-4Fc in regulating Th17 immune responses and may open a new avenue for autoimmune therapy.