Two BMP responsive elements, STAT, and bZIP/HNF4/COUP motifs of the hepcidin promoter are critical for BMP, SMAD1, and HJV responsiveness

Jaroslav Truksa, Pauline Lee and Ernest Beutler


Hepcidin plays a major role in the regulation of iron homeostasis. Several bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are strong inducers of hepcidin (Hamp1, HAMP) expression. Hemojuvelin, a protein critical for maintaining appropriate levels of hepcidin, acts as a coreceptor for BMP2 and BMP4, thereby providing a link between iron homeostasis and the BMP-signaling pathway. We show that a robust BMP, hemojuvelin, and SMAD1 response by murine Hamp1 is dependent on a distal BMP responsive element (BMP-RE2), the adjacent bZIP, HNF4α/COUP binding sites, and plus or minus 50 bp of the flanking area within −1.6 to −1.7 kb of the Hamp1 promoter. Furthermore, the STAT site and the BMP responsive element (BMP-RE1) located in the proximal 260-bp region of the Hamp1 promoter are also indispensable for maximal activation of hepcidin transcription. The homologous motifs in the distal and proximal regions of the human HAMP promoter act in a manner similar to the murine Hamp1 promoter. Therefore, we propose that the regulation of hepcidin by the BMP pathway involves the formation of a complex of liver-specific and response-specific transcription factors bound to the distal BMP-RE2 /bZIP/HNF4α/COUP region and to the proximal BMP-RE1/STAT region possibly by physical association of the 2 regions.

  • Submitted May 29, 2008.
  • Accepted August 22, 2008.
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