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 investigated.
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.
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.
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.
Hfe−/− and Hjv−/− retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells exhibit several features of tumor cells: decreased senescence, enhanced migration, increased glucose uptake, and elevated levels of Histone deacetylases and DNA methyltransferase. These biochemical parameters underlie the hyperproliferative phenotype of Hfe-/- and Hjv-/- RPE cells.