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Reviewed August 2012

What is the official name of the FTL gene?

The official name of this gene is “ferritin, light polypeptide.”

FTL is the gene's official symbol. The FTL gene is also known by other names, listed below.

Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.

What is the normal function of the FTL gene?

The FTL gene provides instructions for making the ferritin light chain, which is one part (subunit) of a protein called ferritin. Ferritin is made up of 24 subunits formed into a hollow spherical molecule. The 24 subunits consist of varying numbers of the ferritin light chain and another subunit called the ferritin heavy chain, which is produced from another gene. The proportion of the two subunits varies in different tissues.

Ferritin stores and releases iron in cells. Each ferritin molecule can hold as many as 4,500 iron atoms inside its spherical structure. This storage capacity allows ferritin to regulate the amount of iron in cells and tissues. Iron is needed for the body to produce red blood cells.

How are changes in the FTL gene related to health conditions?

hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome - caused by mutations in the FTL gene

At least 31 mutations in the FTL gene have been identified in people with hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome. Individuals affected by this disorder have an excess of ferritin in the blood (hyperferritinemia) and tissues of the body. A buildup of this protein begins early in life, leading to clouding of the lenses of the eyes (cataracts) in infancy.

The mutations that cause hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome are found in a segment of the gene called the iron responsive element (IRE). The IRE normally can attach (bind) to a protein called the iron regulatory protein (IRP). When this binding occurs, the activity (expression) of the FTL gene is stopped to prevent too much ferritin light chain from being produced. This normally occurs when iron levels are low, because under those circumstances less ferritin is needed to store the iron. Mutations in the IRE segment of the FTL gene prevent it from binding with IRP, interfering with the mechanism by which ferritin production is matched to iron levels and resulting in excess ferritin being formed.

neuroferritinopathy - caused by mutations in the FTL gene

At least four mutations in the FTL gene have been identified in people with neuroferritinopathy, a disorder in which iron gradually accumulates in the brain. These mutations all affect an area of the gene known as exon 4. The most common mutation detected in people with this disorder inserts the DNA building block (nucleotide) adenine between positions 460 and 461 in the gene sequence. Researchers believe that most families with this mutation descend from a common ancestor who lived in northwest England before 1800. Three other known mutations are each found in a single individual or family affected by neuroferritinopathy.

Mutations in the FTL gene that cause neuroferritinopathy are believed to reduce ferritin's ability to store iron, resulting in the release of excess iron in nerve cells (neurons) of the brain. The cells may respond by producing more ferritin in an attempt to handle the free iron. Excess iron and ferritin accumulate in the brain, particularly in certain regions that help to control movement (basal ganglia), resulting in the movement problems and other neurological changes seen in neuroferritinopathy.

Where is the FTL gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 19q13.33

Molecular Location on chromosome 19: base pairs 48,965,309 to 48,966,879

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBIThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference.)

The FTL gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 19 at position 13.33.

The FTL gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 19 at position 13.33.

More precisely, the FTL gene is located from base pair 48,965,309 to base pair 48,966,879 on chromosome 19.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about FTL?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about FTL helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the FTL gene or gene products?

  • ferritin L-chain
  • ferritin light chain
  • ferritin light polypeptide-like 3
  • ferritin L subunit
  • L apoferritin
  • MGC71996
  • NBIA3

Where can I find general information about genes?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.

What glossary definitions help with understanding FTL?

adenine ; cataract ; DNA ; exon ; gene ; iron ; molecule ; mutation ; neurological ; nucleotide ; protein ; subunit ; syndrome

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (12 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: August 2012
Published: February 8, 2016