Nat Genet 2004 Jan 30;36(1):77-82. Epub 2003 Nov 30.
First Department of Internal Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Medicine, Laikon General Hospital, Athens 11527, Greece.
Juvenile hemochromatosis is an early-onset autosomal recessive disorder of iron overload resulting in cardiomyopathy, diabetes and hypogonadism that presents in the teens and early 20s (refs. 1,2). Juvenile hemochromatosis has previously been linked to the centromeric region of chromosome 1q (refs. 3-6), a region that is incomplete in the human genome assembly. Here we report the positional cloning of the locus associated with juvenile hemochromatosis and the identification of a new gene crucial to iron metabolism. We finely mapped the recombinant interval in families of Greek descent and identified multiple deleterious mutations in a transcription unit of previously unknown function (LOC148738), now called HFE2, whose protein product we call hemojuvelin. Analysis of Greek, Canadian and French families indicated that one mutation, the amino acid substitution G320V, was observed in all three populations and accounted for two-thirds of the mutations found. HFE2 transcript expression was restricted to liver, heart and skeletal muscle, similar to that of hepcidin, a key protein implicated in iron metabolism. Urinary hepcidin levels were depressed in individuals with juvenile hemochromatosis, suggesting that hemojuvelin is probably not the hepcidin receptor. Rather, HFE2 seems to modulate hepcidin expression.