Lead suppresses chimeric human transferrin gene expression in transgenic mouse liver

G. S. Adrian, E. V. Rivera, E. K. Adrian, Y. Lu, J. Buchanan, D. C. Herbert, F. J. Weaker, C. A. Walter, B. H. Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The major iron-transport protein in serum is transferrin (TF) which also has the capacity to transport other metals. This report presents evidence that synthesis of human TF can be regulated by the metal lead. Transgenic mice carrying chimeric human TF-chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) genes received lead or sodium salts by intraperitoneal injections or in drinking water. Transgene expression in liver was suppressed 31 to 50% by the lead treatment. Lead regulates human TF transgenes at the mRNA level since liver CAT enzyme activity, CAT protein, and TF-CAT mRNA levels were all suppressed. The dosages of lead did not alter synthesis of the other liver proteins, mouse TF and albumin, as measured by Northern blot analysis of total liver RNA and rocket immunoelectrophoresis of mouse sera. Moderate levels of lead exposure were sufficient to evoke the human TF transgene response; blood lead levels in mice that received lead acetate in drinking water ranged from 30 μg/dl to 56 μg/dl. In addition to suppressing expression of TF-CAT genes in transgenic mice, lead also suppressed synthesis of TF protein in cultured human hepatoma HepG2 cells. The regulation of human TF apparently differs from the regulation of mouse TF which is unresponsive to lead exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-282
Number of pages10
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1993


  • HepG2 Cells
  • Hepatoma Cell Line
  • Lead
  • Transferrin
  • Transgenic Mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


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