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The transcription factor ATOH8 is regulated by erythropoietic activity and regulates HAMP transcription and cellular pSMAD1,5,8 levels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-596
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number4
Early online date16 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

The article is the first to describe the a pleiotropic function of ATOH8 in the regulation of hepcidin, the master modulator of iron homeostasis.


King's Authors


ATOH8 has previously been shown to be an iron-regulated transcription factor, however its role in iron metabolism is not known. ATOH8 expression in HEK293 cells resulted in increased endogenous HAMP mRNA levels as well as HAMP promoter activity. Mutation of the E-box or SMAD response elements within the HAMP promoter significantly reduced the effects of ATOH8, indicating that ATOH8 activates HAMP transcription directly as well as through bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signalling. In support of the former, Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays provided evidence that ATOH8 binds to E-box regions within the HAMP promoter while the latter was supported by the finding that ATOH8 expression in HEK293 cells led to increased phosphorylated SMAD1,5,8 levels. Liver Atoh8 levels were reduced in mice under conditions associated with increased erythropoietic activity such as hypoxia, haemolytic anaemia, hypotransferrinaemia and erythropoietin treatment and increased by inhibitors of erythropoiesis. Hepatic Atoh8 mRNA levels increased in mice treated with holo transferrin, suggesting that Atoh8 responds to changes in plasma iron. ATOH8 is therefore a novel transcriptional regulator of HAMP, which is responsive to changes in plasma iron and erythroid activity and could explain how changes in erythroid activity lead to regulation of HAMP.

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