Iron metabolism in insects

Helen Nichol, John H. Law, Joy J. Winzerling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

237 Scopus citations


Like other organisms, insects must balance two properties of ionic iron, that of an essential nutrient and a potent toxin. Iron must be acquired to provide catalysis for oxidative metabolism, but it must be controlled to avoid destructive oxidative reactions. Insects have evolved distinctive forms of the serum iron transport protein, transferrin, and the storage protein, ferritin. These proteins may serve different functions in insects than they do in other organisms. A form of translational control of protein synthesis by iron in insects is similar to that of vertebrates. The Drosophila melanogaster genome contains many genes that may encode other proteins involved in iron metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-559
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual review of entomology
StatePublished - 2002


  • Ferritin
  • Insect
  • Iron
  • Iron regulatory protein
  • Transferrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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