A cDNA clone encoding a subunit of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta (Ms) hemolymph (serum) ferritin (Fer) has been identified and sequenced. The deduced amino acid (aa) sequence shows approx. 50% similarity to vertebrate Fer subunit sequences, and the nucleotide sequence contains a stem-loop structure in the 5' untranslated region that could serve as an iron-responsive element (IRE). The stem-loop of this putative IRE exhibits high identity to vertebrate IRE that play an essential role in the control of Fer synthesis. The Ms Fer subunit lacks one of the three Tyr residues required for the rapid biomineralization of iron shown in vertebrate heavy-chain Fer. In addition, aa residues that comprise the putative ferroxidase centers generally are not conserved, suggesting that the Ms Fer subunit more closely resembles the vertebrate light-chain subunit. Northern blot analyses indicate that the fer mRNA is expressed in the midgut, fat body and hemocytes, with the greatest expression in the midgut.
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