Secreted ferritin: Mosquito defense against iron overload?

Dawn L. Geiser, Dianzheng Zhang, Joy J. Winzerling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, must blood feed in order to complete her life cycle. The blood meal provides a high level of iron that is required for egg development. We are interested in developing control strategies that interfere with this process. We show that A. aegypti larval cells synthesize and secrete ferritin in response to iron exposure. Cytoplasmic ferritin is maximal at low levels of iron, consists of both the light chain (LCH) and heavy chain (HCH) subunits and reflects cytoplasmic iron levels. Secreted ferritin increases in direct linear relationship to iron dose and consists primarily of HCH subunits. Although the messages for both subunits increase with iron treatment, our data indicate that mosquito HCH synthesis could be partially controlled at the translational level as well. Importantly, we show that exposure of mosquito cells to iron at low concentrations increases cytoplasmic iron, while higher iron levels results in a decline in cytoplasmic iron levels indicating that excess iron is removed from mosquito cells. Our work indicates that HCH synthesis and ferritin secretion are key factors in the response of mosquito cells to iron exposure and could be the primary mechanisms that allow these insects to defend against an intracellular iron overload.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Aedes aegypti mosquito
  • Ferritin
  • Iron metabolism
  • Iron regulatory protein 1
  • Secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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