Background: Ferritin has been traditionally considered a cytoplasmic iron storage protein. However, several studies over the last two decades have reported the nuclear localization of ferritin, specifically H-ferritin, in developing neurons, hepatocytes, corneal epithelial cells, and some cancer cells. These observations encouraged a new perspective on ferritin beyond iron storage, such as a role in the regulation of iron accessibility to nuclear components, DNA protection from iron-induced oxidative damage, and transcriptional regulation. Scope of Review: This review will address the translocation and functional significance of nuclear ferritin in the context of human development and disease. Major conclusions: The nuclear translocation of ferritin is a selective energy-dependent process that does not seem to require a consensus nuclear localization signal. It is still unclear what regulates the nuclear import/export of ferritin. Some reports have implicated the phosphorylation andO-glycosylation of the ferritin protein in nuclear transport; others suggested the existence of a specific nuclear chaperone for ferritin. The data argue strongly for nuclear ferritin as a factor in human development and disease. Ferritin can bind and protect DNA from oxidative damage. It also has the potential of playing a regulatory role in transcription. General significance: Nuclear ferritin represents a novel new outlook on ferritin functionality beyond its classical role as an iron storage molecule.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology