Overexpression of mitochondrial ferritin sensitizes cells to oxidative stress via an iron-mediated mechanism

Zhongbing Lu, Guangjun Nie, Yiye Li, Shan Soe-lin, Yi Tao, Yuanlin Cao, Zhiyong Zhang, Nianqing Liu, Prem Ponka, Baolu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial ferritin (MtFt) is a newly identified H-ferritin-like protein expressed only in mitochondria. Previous studies have shown that its overexpression markedly affects intracellular iron homeostasis and rescues defects caused by frataxin deficiency. To assess how MtFt exerts its function under oxidative stress conditions, MtFt overexpressing cells were treated with tert-butyl-hydroperoxide (tBHP), and the effects of MtFt expression on cell survival and iron homeostasis were examined. We found that MtFt expression was associated with decreased mitochondrial metabolic activity and reduced glutathione levels as well as a concomitant increase in reactive oxygen species levels and apoptosis. Moreover, mechanistic studies demonstrated that tBHP treatment led to a prolonged decrease in cytosolic ferritins levels in MtFt-expressing cells, while ferritin levels recovered to basal levels in control counterparts. tBHP treatment also resulted in elevated transferrin receptors, followed by more iron acquisition in MtFt expressing cells. The high molecular weight desferrioxamine, targeting to lysosomes, as well as the hydrophobic iron chelator salicylaldehyde isonicotinoyl hydrazone significantly attenuated tBHP-induced cell damage. In conclusion, the current study indicates that both the newly acquired iron from the extracellular environment and internal iron redistribution from ferritin degradation may be responsible for the increased sensitivity to oxidative stress in MtFt-expressing cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1791-1803
Number of pages13
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Overexpression of mitochondrial ferritin sensitizes cells to oxidative stress via an iron-mediated mechanism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this