Characterization of transferrin receptors on plasma membranes of lactating rat mammary tissue

Madeleine Sigman, Bo Lönnerdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Little is known about the transport of iron into the mammary secretory cell and the process of milk iron secretion. The concentration of iron in milk is remarkably unaffected by maternal iron status, suggesting that the uptake of iron into the mammary gland is regulated. It is known that iron enters other cells via transferrin receptor-mediated endocytosis. This study was designed to isolate and characterize the mammary gland transferrin receptor in lactating rat mammary tissue using immunochemical techniques. The existence of functional mammary gland transferrin receptors in lactating rodents was demonstrated using radiolabel-binding techniques. Isolation of mammary transferrin receptors by affinity chromatography was confirmed using immunoelectrophoresis and slot blot analysis. The intact transferrin receptor was found to have a molecular weight of 176 kd as determined by Western blotting followed by scanning densitometry. Reduction of the receptor with β-mercaptoethanol gave a molecular weight of 98 kd. An additional immunoreactive band of 135 kd was observed. The presence of transferrin receptors in normal lactating rat mammary tissue is likely to explain iron transport into mammary tissue for both cellular metabolism and milk iron secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-243
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990


  • iron
  • lactation
  • mammary gland
  • milk
  • Transferrin receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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