Author(s): Eckenroth BE, Steere AN, Chasteen ND, Everse SJ, Mason AB
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Abstract Delivery of iron to cells requires binding of two iron-containing human transferrin (hTF) molecules to the specific homodimeric transferrin receptor (TFR) on the cell surface. Through receptor-mediated endocytosis involving lower pH, salt, and an unidentified chelator, iron is rapidly released from hTF within the endosome. The crystal structure of a monoferric N-lobe hTF/TFR complex (3.22-Å resolution) features two binding motifs in the N lobe and one in the C lobe of hTF. Binding of Fe(N)hTF induces global and site-specific conformational changes within the TFR ectodomain. Specifically, movements at the TFR dimer interface appear to prime the TFR to undergo pH-induced movements that alter the hTF/TFR interaction. Iron release from each lobe then occurs by distinctly different mechanisms: Binding of His349 to the TFR (strengthened by protonation at low pH) controls iron release from the C lobe, whereas displacement of one N-lobe binding motif, in concert with the action of the dilysine trigger, elicits iron release from the N lobe. One binding motif in each lobe remains attached to the same α-helix in the TFR throughout the endocytic cycle. Collectively, the structure elucidates how the TFR accelerates iron release from the C lobe, slows it from the N lobe, and stabilizes binding of apohTF for return to the cell surface. Importantly, this structure provides new targets for mutagenesis studies to further understand and define this system.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Bioenergetics: Open Access