Haemoglobin proteins in red blood cells have a vital role in delivering oxygen to tissues throughout the body. A decrease in the production of haemoglobin, or the haem molecules embedded within haemoglobin, can lead to anaemia. A study in the August 18, 2005 issue of Nature (Vol. 436, No. 7053, pp. 1035-1039) provides a new link between two fundamental processes - haem production and the formation of iron-sulphur clusters on proteins.
Leonard Zon and his colleagues have shown that the anaemia found in a zebrafish mutant called shiraz is caused by a defect in the glutaredoxin 5 gene. This gene is essential in yeast for the assembly of iron-sulphur clusters. The research team found that this gene performs the same function in zebrafish, and that the loss of these assembled iron-sulphur clusters also prevented the production of haem molecules in mutant zebrafish. Based on these results, they suggest that a deficiency in iron-sulphur clusters could be an overlooked cause of anaemia in humans.
Leonard I. Zon (HHMI, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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