Insights into the role of glycerophospholipids on the iron export function of SLC40A1 and the molecular mechanisms of ferroportin disease

Read the full article See related articles

Listed in

Log in to save this article


SLC40A1 is the sole iron export protein reported in mammals. In humans, its dysfunction is responsible for ferroportin disease, an inborn error of iron metabolism transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait and observed in different ethnic groups. As a member of the major facilitator superfamily, SLC40A1 requires a series of conformational changes to enable iron translocation across the plasma membrane. The influence of lipids on these conformational changes has been little investigated to date. Here, we combine molecular dynamics simulations of SLC40A1 embedded in bilayers with experimental alanine scanning mutagenesis to analyze the specific role of glycerophospholipids. We identify four basic residues (Lys90, Arg365, Lys366 and Arg371) that are located at the membrane-cytosol interface and consistently interact with POPC and POPE lipid molecules. These residues surround a network of salt bridges and hydrogens bonds that play a critical role in stabilizing SLC40A1 in its basal outward-facing conformation. More deeply embedded in the plasma membrane, we identify Arg179 as a charged amino acid residue also tightly interacting with lipid phosphates. This result into a local deformation of the lipid bilayer. Interestingly, Arg179 is adjacent to Arg178, which forms a functionally important salt-bridge with Asp473 and is a recurrently associated with ferroportin disease when mutated to glutamine. We demonstrate that the two p.Arg178Gln and p.Arg179Thr missense variants have similar functional behaviors. These observations provide insights into the role of phospholipids in the formation/disruption of the SLC40A1 inner gate, and give a better understanding of the diversity of molecular mechanisms of ferroportin disease.

Article activity feed