Identification of an iron-hepcidin complex

Sébastien Farnaud, Chiara Rapisarda, Tam Bui, Alex Drake, Richard Cammack, Robert W. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Following its identification as a liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide, the hepcidin peptide was later shown to be a key player in iron homoeostasis. It is now proposed to be the 'iron hormone' which, by interacting with the iron transporter ferroportin, prevents further iron import into the circulatory system. This conclusion was reached using the corresponding synthetic peptide, emphasizing the functional importance of the mature 25-mer peptide, but omitting the possible functionality of its maturation. From urine-purified native hepcidin, we recently demonstrated that a proportion of the purified hepcidin had formed iron-hepcidin complexes. This interaction was investigated further by computer modelling and, based on the sequence similarity of hepcidin with metallothionein, a three-dimensional model of hepcidin, containing one atom of iron, was constructed. To characterize these complexes further, the interaction with iron was analysed using different spectroscopic methods. Monoferric hepcidin was identified by MS, as were possibly other complexes containing two and three atoms of iron respectively, although these were present only in minor amounts. UV/visible absorbance and CD studies identified the iron-binding events which were facilitated at a physiological pH. EPR spectroscopy identified the ferric state of the bound metal, and indicated that the iron-hepcidin complex shares some similarities with the rubredoxin iron-sulfur complex, suggesting the presence of Fe 3+ in a tetrahedral sulfur co-ordination. The potential roles of iron binding for hepcidin are discussed, and we propose either a regulatory function in the maturation of pro-hepcidin into active hepcidin or as the necessary link in the interaction between hepcidin and ferroportin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-557
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Ferroportin
  • Haemochromatosis
  • Hepcidin
  • Iron homoeostasis
  • Propeptide maturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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