Expression of the iron-regulatory protein haemojuvelin in retina and its regulation during cytomegalovirus infection

Jaya P. Gnana-Prakasam, Ming Zhang, Pamela M. Martin, Sally S. Atherton, Sylvia B. Smith, Vadivel Ganapathy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Haemochromatosis is a genetic disorder of iron overload resulting from loss-of-function mutations in genes coding for the iron-regulatory proteins HFE [HLA-like protein involved in iron (Fe) homoeostasis], transferrin receptor 2, ferroportin, hepcidin and HJV (haemojuvelin). Expression of the first four genes coding for these proteins in retina has been established. Here we report on the expression of HJV. Since infection of retina with CMV (cytomegalovirus) causes blindness, we also investigated the expression of HJV and other iron-regulatory proteins in retina during CMV infection. HJV (HJV gene) mRNA was expressed in RPE (retinal pigment epithelium)/eyecup and neural retina in mouse. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry confirmed the presence of HJV mRNA and protein in RPE, outer and inner nuclear layers, and ganglion cell layer. Immunocytochemistry with cell lines and primary cell cultures showed HJV expression in RPE and Müller cells. In RPE, the expression was restricted to apical membrane. Infection of primary cultures of mouse RPE with CMV increased HJV mRNA and protein levels. Under similar conditions, HFE (HFE gene) mRNA levels were not altered, but HFE protein was decreased. Hepcidin expression was, however, not altered. These findings were demonstrable in vivo with CMV-infected mouse retina. The CMV-induced up-regulation of HJV in RPE was independent of changes in HFE because the phenomenon was also seen in HFE-null RPE cells. CMV-infected primary RPE cells showed evidence of iron accumulation and oxidative stress, as indicated by increased levels of ferritin and hydroxynonenal. The observed changes in HJV expression and iron status during CMV infection in retina may have significance in the pathophysiology of CMV retinitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-543
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2009


  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Haemochromatosis
  • Haemojuvelin (HJV)
  • Müller cell
  • Retina
  • Retinal pigment epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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