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Diane McVey Ward

Research Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Membrane Trafficking, Iron Metabolism

Diane Ward Photo


Molecular Biology Program


B.S. Brigham Young University

Ph.D. University of Utah



My research has focused on two major areas.  First, I study membrane trafficking specifically looking at vesicle formation and molecules involved in endocytic/secretory vesicle homeostasis.  My lab, in collaboration with Dr. Ryan O’Connell (Pathology), has focused on identifying the mechanisms that regulate exosome formation, release and delivery in vivo and in vitro and how exosomes modulate immune response.  I have also focused my efforts on biochemically and genetically dissecting the mechanisms of vesicle fusion with lysosomes, specifically examining how the loss of the protein Lyst (mutant in Chediak Higashi Syndrome) affects lysosome size.   We have utilized yeast, mammalian cells and mouse models to understand lysosome biology and membrane trafficking.  Understanding lysosome biology has led to the study of how iron is stored in lysosomes and how it is transported out of lysosomes upon iron demand.  This research connects my membrane trafficking research and the second focus in my lab.

The second area of research I have focused on is iron metabolism. Iron is an element required by virtually all organisms. The transport of iron into cells and within cells requires appropriate membrane trafficking. Our studies on iron metabolism have focused primarily on the mechanisms that regulate iron import/export in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae with the goal of identifying homologues in higher eukaryotes. Malregulation of iron metabolism in humans leads to anemia when iron uptake into the body is inadequate and iron overload disease when iron transport cannot be regulated. Work in the lab has led to a mechanistic understanding of both iron overload and the anemia of chronic disease. Mammalian iron metabolism is regulated by a hormone, termed hepcidin, which is secreted by the liver in response to inflammation and iron. We discovered that this hormone binds to the iron exporter Ferroportin and induces the internalization and degradation of Ferroportin resulting in retention of iron in cells. We have identified mitochondrial iron transporters Mitoferrin1 and Mitoferrin2 and partner proteins Abcb10 involved in mitochondrial iron homeostasis. We have generated conditional knockout mice for Mitoferrin1 and Mitoferrin2 and are determining their role in development, red blood cell formation and organ physiology. 


ward 1 2020
ward 2 2020



  1. Li L, Bertram S, Kaplan J, Jia X, Ward DM. (2020). The mitochondrial iron exporter genes MMT1 and MMT2 in yeast are transcriptionally regulated by Aft1 and Yap1. J Biol Chem. 2020 Jan 2. pii: jbc.RA119.011154. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.011154. Blood Cells Mol Dis. 77:95-100. doi: 10.1016/j.bcmd.2019.04.005. Epub 2019 Apr 8.PMID: 31005753Clinical Trial.
  2. Bahr TM, Christensen RD, Ward DM, Meng F, Jackson LK, Doyle K, Christensen DR, Harvey AG, Yaish HM. (2019). Ferritin in serum and urine: A pilot study. Blood Cells Mol Dis. 76:59-62. doi: 10.1016/j.bcmd.2019.02.001. Epub 2019 Feb 8. PMID: 30777730
  3. Baldauf L, Endres T, Scholz J, Kirches E, Ward DM, Lessmann V, Borucki K, Mawrin C. (2019). Mitoferrin-1 is required for brain energy metabolism and hippocampus-dependent memory. Neurosci Lett. 713:134521. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2019.134521. Epub 2019 Sep 26. PMID: 31563673
  4. Ward DM, Cloonan SM. (2019). Mitochondrial Iron in Human Health and Disease. Annu Rev Physiol. 81:453-482. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-020518-114742. Epub 2018 Nov 28. PMID: 30485761
  5. MacQueen BC, Christensen RD, Baer VL, Ward DM, Snow GL. (2019). Screening umbilical cord blood for congenital Iron deficiency. 
  6. Meznarich, JA, Draper, L, Christensen, RD, Yaish, HM, Luem, ND, Perkins, SL, Pysher, TJ, Jung, G, Nemeth, E, Ganz, T, Ward, DM.  (2018). Fetal Presentation of Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anemia Type 1 with Novel Compound Heterozygous CDAN1 Mutations. Blood Cells Mol Dis 71:63-66. PMID:29599085.
  7. Yien, YY, Shi, J, Chen C, Cheung, JTM, Grillo, AS, Shrestha, R, Li, L, Chung, J, Kafina, MD, Kingsley, PD, King, MJ, Ablain, J, Zon, LI, Palis, J, Burke, MD, Bauer, DE, Orkin, SH, Koehler, CM, Phillips, JD, Kaplan, J, Ward, DM, Lodish, HF, Paw, BH.  (2018) FAM210B is an erythropoietin target and regulates erythroid heme synthesis by controlling mitochondrial iron import and ferrochelatase activity. J Biol Chem. 293(51): 19797-19811. PMID:30366982 PMCID:PMC6314115
  8. Ward, DM, Chen, OS, Li, L, Kaplan, J, Bhuiyan, SA, Natarajan, SK, Bard, M, Cox, JE. (2018) Altered sterol metabolism in budding yeast affects mitochondrial iron-sulfur(Fe-S) cluster synthesis. J. Biol. Chem. 293:10782-10795 PMID:29773647. PMCID: PMC6036212.
  9.   Zhu, W, Shi, DS, Winter, JM, Rich, BE, Tong, Z, Sorensen, LK, Zhao, H, Huang, Y, Tai, Z, Mleynek, TM, Yoo, JH, Dunn, C, Ling, J, Bergquist, JA, Richards, JR, Jiang, A, Hartnett, ME, Ward, DM, Mueller, AL, Ostanin, K, Thomas, KR, Odelberg, SJ and Li, DY.  (2017).  ARF6 is an actionable node that controls VEGFR2 trafficking and signaling in Diabetic Retinopathy.  J.Clin. Invest. 127: 4569-4582. PMID:29058688. PMCID:PMC5707163
  10. Alexander, M, Ramstead, A, Bauer, K, Runtsch, MC, Wallace, J, Huffaker, TB, Larsen, DK, Tolmachova, T, Seabra, MC, Round, JL, Ward, DM and O’Connell, RM.  (2017).  Rab27-dependent exosome production inhibits chronic inflammation and enables acute responses to inflammatory stimuli.  J. Immunology.  199: 3559-3570. PMID:28978688. PMCID:PMC5821227
  11. Feldkamp, ML, Ward, DM, Pysher, TJ and Chambers, CT. (2017).  Chlamydia trachomatis is responsible for lipid vacuolation in the amniotic epithelium of fetal gastroschisis.  Birth Defects Res. 109:1003-1010. PMID:28635162
  12. Seguin, A, Takahashi-Makise, N, Yien, YY, Huston, NC, Whitman, JC, Musso, G, Wallace, JA, Bradley, T, Bergonia, H, Kafina, MD, Matsumoto, M, Igarashi, K, Phillips, JD, Paw, BH, Kaplan, J and Ward, DM.  (2017).  Reductions in the mitochondrial ABC transporter Abcb10 affect the transcriptional profile of heme biosynthesis genes.  J. Biol. Chem. 292:16284-16299. PMID: 28808058 PMCID:PMC5625058
  13. Li, L, Kaplan, J and Ward, DM.  (2017).  The glucose sensor Snf1 and the transcription factors Msn2 and Msn4 regulate transcription of the vacuolar iron importer gene CCC1 and iron resistance in yeast.  J. Biol. Chem. 292:15577-15586. PMID:28760824. PMCID:PMC5602413
  14. Feldkamp, ML, Ward, DM, Pysher, TJ and Chambers, CT. (2017).  Chlamydia trachomatis is responsible for lipid vacuolation in the amniotic epithelium of fetal gastroschisis.  Birth Defects Res. (in press).
  15. Yaish HM, Farrell CP, Christensen RD, MacQueen BC, Jackson LK, Trochez-Enciso J, Kaplan J, Ward DM, Salah WK, Phillips JD.  (2017)  Two novel mutations in TMPRSS6 associated with iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia in a mother and child. Blood Cells Mol Dis. 65:38-40. PMID:28460265
  16. MacQueen, BC, Christensen, RD, Ward, DM, Yaish, HM, Bennett, ST, O’Brien, EA, Sheffield, MJ, Baer, VL, Now, GL, Weaver Lewis, K, Fleming, RE and Kaplan, J.  (2017).  The iron status at birth of neonates who are “at risk” for developing iron deficiency; a pilot study.  J. of Perinatology. 1-5.  PMID:27977019.
  17. Shrestha, R, Kaplan, J and Ward, DM.  (2016). Conventional and Secretory Lysosomes: Encyclopedia of Cell Biology. Vol.2:225-234.
  18. Alexander, M, Hu, R, Runtsch, MC, Kaegle, DA, Round, JL, Ward, DM and O’Connell, R. (2015). Exosome-delivered microRNAs reprogram the inflammatory response to endotoxin. Nature Comm. 6:7321. PMID:26084661
  19. Kaplan, J and Ward, DM. (2015). Muscle specific iron deficiency has systemic consequences.  EBioMedicine 11:1582-1583. PMID:26870775. PMCID:4740307.
  20. Yien, YY Robledo, RF, Schultz, IJ, Takahashi-Makise, N, Gwynn, B, Bauer DE, Dass, A, Yi, G, Li, L, Hildick-Smith, GJ, Cooney, JD, Pierce, EL, Mohler, K, Dailey, TA, Miyata, N, Kingsley, PD, Garone, C, Hattangadi, SM, Huang, H, Chen, W, Keenan, EM, Shah, DI, Schlaeger, TM, DiMauro, S, Orkin, SH, Cantor, AB, Palis, J, Koehler, CM, Lodish, HF, Kaplan, J, Ward, DM, Dailey, HA, Phillips, JD, Peters, LL, Paw, BH.  (2014) TMEM14C is required for erythroid mitochondrial heme metabolism.  J. Clin. Inv.  124:4294-4304. PMID:25157825.
  21. Ben-Othman, R, Flannery, A, Miguel, Ward, DM, Kaplan, J and Andrews, NW. (2014). Leishmania-mediated inhibition of iron export promotes parasite replication in macrophages. PLOS Pathogens. 10:1-13. PMID:24497831
  22. Chung, J, Anderson, SA, Gwynn, B, Deck, KM, Chen, MJ, Langer, NB, Shaw, GC, Huston, NC, Boyer, LA, Datta, S, Paradkar, PN, Li, L, Wei, Z, Lambert, AJ, Sahr, K, Wittig, JG, Chen, W, Lu, W, Galy, B, Schlaeger, TM, Hentze, MW, Ward, DM, Kaplan, J, Eisenstein, RS, Peters, LL and Paw, BH. (2014). Iron Regulatory Protein-1 protects against mitoferrin1-deficient Porphyria. J. Biol. Chem. 289:7835-7843. PMID:24509859
  23. Li, l, Miao, R, Jia, X, Ward, DM and Kaplan, J.  (2014). Expression of the yeast cation diffusion facilitators Mmt1 and Mmt2 affects mitochondrial and cellular iron homeostasis: evidence for mitochondrial iron export. J. Biol. Chem. 289:7835-7843. PMID:24798331
  24. Kaplan, J and Ward, DM. (2013). The essential nature of iron usage and regulation: variations on a theme. Curr. Biol. 15:R642-6. PMID:23928078
  25. Kaplan, J and Ward, DM. (2013). Molecular Genetics of Chediak-Higashi Syndrome. Invited review. eLS. September DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0024308
  26. Chen, C, Garcia-Santos, D, Ishikawa, Y, Seguin, A, Li, L, Fegan, KH, Hildick-Smith, GJ, Shah, DI, Cooney, JD, Chen, W, King, MJ, Yien, YY, Schultz, IJ, Anderson, H, Dalton, AJ, Freedman, ML, Kingsley, PD, Palis, J, Hattangadi, SM, Lodish, HF, Ward, DM, Kaplan, J, Maeda, T, Ponka, P and Paw, BH. (2013). Snx3 regulates recycling of the transferrin receptor and iron assimilation. Cell Metab. 17(3):343-52. PMID:23416069
  27. White, C, Yuan, X, Schmidt, P, Bresciani, E, Campagna, D, Hall, C, Ward, DM, Liu, P, Fleming, M and Hamza, I. (2013). HRG-1 is essential for heme transport from the phagolysosome of macrophages during erythrophagocytosis. Cell Metab. 17:261-270. PMID:23395172
  28. Bagley, DC, Paradkar, PN, Durchfort, N, Kaplan, J and Ward, DM. (2012). Mon1a protein acts in trafficking through the secretory apparatus. J. Biol. Chem. 287:25577-25588. PMID:22665492
  29. Durchfort, N, Verhoef, S, Vaughn, MB, Shrestha, R, Adam, D, Kaplan, J and Ward, DM. (2012). The enlarged lysosomes in beige cells result from decreased lysosome fission and not increased lysosome fusion. Traffic. 13:108-119. PMID:21985285
  30. Li, l, Miao, R, Bertram, S, Jia, X, Ward, DM and Kaplan, J. (2012). A role for iron-sulfur clusters in the regulation of Yap5-dependent high iron transcriptional responses in yeast. J. Biol. Chem. 287:35709-35721. PMID:22915593
  31. Shah, DI, Takahashi-Makise, N, Cooney, JD, Seguin, A, Li, L, Schultz, IJ, Pierce, EL, Narla, A, Hattangadi, SM, Langer, NB, Chen W, Dailey, TA, Medlock, AE, Hurst, SN, Faccenda, D, Wiwczar, JM, Vogin, G, Brugnara, C, Zhou, Y, Ward, DM, Ebert BL, Campanella, M, Danial, NN, Dailey, HA, Kaplan, J and Paw, BH. (2012). Mitochondrial Atpif1 regultes heme synthesis in developing erythroblasts. Nature. 491:608-612. PMID:23135403
Last Updated: 7/11/22