We assessed the role of the cell labile iron pool in mediating oncogene-induced cell proliferation via repression of ferritin expression. When HEK-293 cells, engineered to inducibly express either active (+) or dominant-negative (-) forms of the H-ras oncogene, were treated with antisense nucleotides to ferritin subunits they displayed (a) decreased ferritin levels, (b) increased labile iron pool and either (c) faster growth in cells induced to express H-Ras (+) or (d) recovery from growth retardation in dominant-negative H-Ras-induced cells. Our studies support the view that the role of down-modulation of ferritin expression by some oncogene-evoked proliferation proceeds via expansion of the cellular labile iron pool.

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