5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine activates iron uptake and heme biosynthesis by increasing c-Myc nuclear localization and binding to the E-boxes of Transferrin Receptor 1 (TfR1) and ferrochelatase (Fech) genes

Bo Ning, Gang Liu, Yuanyuan Liu, Xiufen Su, Gregory J. Anderson, Xin Zheng, Yanzhong Chang, Mingzhou Guo, Yuanfang Liu, Yuliang Zhao, Guangjun Nie

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13 Scopus citations


The hypomethylating agent 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-aza-CdR) and its derivatives have been successfully used for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes, and they frequently improve the anemia that usually accompanies these disorders. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this action remain poorly understood. In this study, we used two erythroid models, murine erythroid leukemia cells and erythroid burst-forming unit-derived erythroblasts, to show that 5-aza-CdR induced erythroid differentiation and increased the expression of transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) and ferrochelatase (Fech), thereby increasing iron uptake and heme biosynthesis. We have identified new regulatory E-boxes that lie outside of CpG islands in the TfR1 and Fech promoters, and the methylation status of these sites can be altered by 5-aza-CdR treatment. This in turn altered the binding of the transcription factor c-Myc to these promoter elements. Furthermore, 5-aza-CdR promoted the nuclear translocation of c-Myc and its binding toMaxto form functional complexes. The coordinated actions of 5-aza-CdR on the methylation status of the target genes and in stimulating the nuclear translocation of c-Mycprovide new molecular insights into the regulation of E-boxes and explain, at least in part, the increased erythroid response to 5-aza-CdR treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37196-37206
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 28 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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