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X-linked sideroblastic anemia with ataxia (XLSA/A) is a rare inherited disorder characterized by mild anemia and ataxia. XLSA/A is caused by mutations in the ABCB7 gene, which encodes a member of the ATP-binding cassette transporter family. Studies in yeast, mammalian cells, and mice have shown that ABCB7 functions in the transport of iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters into the cytoplasm. To further investigate the mechanism of this disease, we have identified and characterized the Caenorhabditis elegans homologue of the ABCB7 gene, abtm-1. We have studied the function of abtm-1 using mutants and RNAi. abtm-1-depleted animals produce arrested embryos that have morphogenetic defects and unusual premature, putative apoptotic events. abtm-1(RNAi) animals also show accumulation of ferric iron and increased oxidative stress. Despite the increased level of oxidative stress in abtm-1(RNAi) animals, they have an increased life span. We observed accumulation of DAF-16/FOXO in the nuclei of affected animals and elevation of the expression of SOD-3, a well established target of DAF-16, which may explain the increased life span extension of these animals. abtm-1 is strongly expressed in tissues with a high energy demand, and abtm-1(RNAi) animals have phenotypes that reflect the need for abtm-1 in these tissues. Finally, we show that reducing the function of other genes involved in Fe-S cluster production produces similar phenotypic consequences to abtm-1 loss of function. Therefore, ablation of abtm-1 in C. elegans provides a model in which to investigate the mechanism underlying XLSA/A.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





21304 - 21314


ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters, Animals, Apoptosis, Caenorhabditis elegans, Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins, Cell Death, Cytoplasm, DNA, Complementary, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Iron, Iron-Binding Proteins, Mitochondria, Models, Biological, Oxidative Stress, RNA Interference