Loss of Hfe leads to progression of tumor phenotype in primary retinal pigment epithelial cells

Jaya P. Gnana-Prakasam, Rajalakshmi Veeranan-Karmegam, Veena Coothankandaswamy, Sushma K. Reddy, Pamela M. Martin, Muthusamy Thangaraju, Sylvia B. Smith, Vadivel Ganapathy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose. Hemochromatosis is a disorder of iron overload arising mostly from mutations in HFE. HFE is expressed in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and Hfe-/- mice develop age-related iron accumulation and retinal degeneration associated with RPE hyperproliferation. Here, the mechanism underlying the hyperproliferative phenotype in RPE was inves tigated. Methods. Cellular senescence was monitored by β-galactosidase activity. Gene expression was monitored by real-time PCR. Survivin was analyzed by Western blot and immunofluorescence. Migration and invasion were monitored using appropriate kits. Glucose transporters (GLUTs) were monitored by 3-O-methyl-D-glucose uptake. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) were studied by monitoring catalytic activity and acetylation status of histones H3/H4. Results. Hfe-/- RPE cells exhibited slower senescence rate and higher survivin expression than wild type cells. Hfe-/- cells migrated faster and showed greater glucose uptake and increased expression of GLUTs. The expression of HDACs and DNA methyltransferase (DNMTs) also was increased. Similarly, RPE cells from hemojuvelin (Hjv)-knockout mice, another model of hemochromatosis, also had increased expression of GLUTs, HDACs, and DNMTs. The expression of Slc5a8 was decreased in Hfe-/- RPE cells, but treatment with a DNA methylation inhibitor restored the transporter expression, indicating involvement of DNA methylation in the silencing of Slc5a8 in Hfe-/- cells. Conclusions. RPE cells from iron-overloaded mice exhibit several features of tumor cells: decreased senescence, enhanced migration, increased glucose uptake, and elevated levels of HDACs and DNMTs. These features are seen in Hfe-/- RPE cells as well as in Hjv-/- RPE cells, providing a molecular basis for the hyperproliferative phenotype of Hfe-/- and Hjv-/- RPE cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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