Iron homeostasis: insights from genetics and animal models.
Disorders that perturb iron balance are among the most prevalent human diseases, but until recently iron transport remained poorly understood. Over the past five years, genetic studies of patients with inherited iron homeostasis disorders and the analysis of mutant mice, rats and zebrafish have helped to identify several important iron-transport proteins. With information being mined from the genomes of four species, the study of iron metabolism has benefited enormously from positional-cloning efforts. Complementing the genomic strategy, targeted mutagenesis in mice has produced new models of human iron diseases. The animal models described in this review offer valuable tools for investigating iron homeostasis in vivo.
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