Transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) which mediates uptake of transferrin-bound iron, is essential for life in mammals. Recently, a close homologue of human transferrin receptor 1 was cloned and called transferrin receptor 2 (TfR2). A similar molecule has been identified in the mouse. Human transferrin receptor 2 is 45% identical with transferrin receptor 1 in the extracellular domain, but contains no iron responsive element in its mRNA and is apparently not regulated by intracellular iron concentration nor by interaction with HFE. Transferrin receptor 2, like transferrin receptor 1, binds transferrin in a pH-dependent manner (but with 25 times lower affinity) and delivers iron to cells. However, transferrin receptor 2 distribution differs from transferrin receptor 1, increasing in differentiating hepatocytes and decreasing in differentiating erythroblasts. Expression of both receptors is cell cycle dependent. Mutations in the human transferrin receptor 2 gene cause iron overload disease, suggesting it has a role in iron homeostasis.