IscA is a key member of the iron-sulfur cluster assembly machinery in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms; however, the physiological function of IscA still remains elusive. Here we report the in vivo evidence demonstrating the iron binding activity of IscA in Escherichia coli cells. Supplement of exogenous iron (1μM) in the M9 minimal medium is sufficient to maximize the iron binding in IscA expressed in E. coli cells under aerobic growth conditions. In contrast, IscU, an iron-sulfur cluster assembly scaffold protein, or CyaY, a bacterial frataxin homologue, fails to bind any iron in E. coli cells under the same experimental conditions. Interestingly, the strong iron binding activity of IscA is greatly diminished in E. coli cells under anaerobic growth conditions. Additional studies reveal that oxygen in medium promotes the iron binding in IscA and that the iron binding in IscA in turn prevents formation of biologically inaccessible ferric hydroxide under aerobic conditions. Consistent with the differential iron binding activity of IscA under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, we find that IscA and its paralog SufA are essential for the iron-sulfur cluster assembly in E. coli cells under aerobic growth conditions but not under anaerobic growth conditions. The results provide the in vivo evidence that IscA may act as an iron chaperone for the biogenesis of iron-sulfur clusters in E. coli cells under aerobic conditions.
Iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis; human IscA homologue; intracellular iron content
Protein-bound dinitrosyl iron complexes (DNICs) have been observed in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells under nitric oxide (NO) stress. The identity of proteins that bind DNICs, however, still remains elusive. Here we demonstrate that iron-sulfur proteins are the major source of protein-bound DNICs formed in Escherichia coli cells under NO stress. Expression of recombinant iron-sulfur proteins, but not the proteins without iron-sulfur clusters, almost doubles the amount of protein-bound DNICs formed in E. coli cells after NO exposure. Purification of recombinant proteins from the NO-exposed E. coli cells further confirms that iron-sulfur proteins, but not the proteins without iron-sulfur clusters, are modified forming protein-bound DINCs. Deletion of the iron-sulfur cluster assembly proteins IscA and SufA to block the [4Fe-4S] cluster biogenesis in E. coli cells largely eliminates the NO-mediated formation of protein-bound DNICs, suggesting that iron-sulfur clusters are mainly responsible for the NO-mediated formation of protein-bound DNICs in cells. Furthermore, depletion of “chelatable iron pool” in the wild-type E. coli cells effectively removes iron-sulfur clusters from proteins and concomitantly diminishes the NO-mediated formation of protein-bound DNICs, indicating that iron-sulfur clusters in proteins constitute at least part of “chelatable iron pool” in cells.
nitric oxide; iron-sulfur clusters; chelatable iron pool; dinitrosyl iron complex
IscA/SufA paralogs are the members of the iron-sulfur cluster assembly machinery in Escherichia coli. While deletion of either IscA or SufA has only a mild effect on cell growth, deletion of both IscA and SufA results in a null-growth phenotype in minimal medium under aerobic growth conditions. Here we report that cell growth of the iscA/sufA double mutant (E. coli strain in which both iscA and sufA had been in-frame-deleted) can be partially restored by supplementing with BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and thiamin. We further demonstrate that deletion of IscA/SufA paralogs blocks the [4Fe-4S] cluster assembly in IlvD (dihydroxyacid dehydratase) of the BCAA biosynthesis pathway in E. coli cells under aerobic conditions and that addition of the iron-bound IscA/SufA efficiently promotes the [4Fe-4S] cluster assembly in IlvD and restores the enzyme activity in vitro, suggesting that IscA/SufA may act as an iron donor for the [4Fe-4S] cluster assembly under aerobic conditions. Additional studies reveal that IscA/SufA are also required for the [4Fe-4S] cluster assembly in protein ThiC of the thiamin biosynthesis pathway, aconitase B of the citrate acid cycle, and endonuclease III of the DNA base excision repair pathway in E. coli under aerobic conditions. Nevertheless, deletion of IscA/SufA does not significantly affect the [2Fe-2S] cluster assembly in the redox transcription factor SoxR, ferredoxin, and the siderophore-iron reductase FhuF. The results suggest that the biogenesis of the [4Fe-4S] clusters and the [2Fe-2S] clusters may have distinct pathways and that IscA/SufA paralogs are essential for the [4Fe-4S] cluster assembly, but are dispensable for the [2Fe-2S] cluster assembly in E. coli under aerobic conditions.
aconitase; branched-chain amino acids; dihydroxyacid dehydratase; iron-sulfur clusters; IscA/SufA paralogs; thiamin
Iron sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are versatile biological cofactors that require biosynthetic systems in vivo to be assembled. In Escherichia coli the Isc (iscRSUA-hscBA-fdx-iscX) and the Suf (sufABCDSE) pathways fulfill this function. Despite extensive biochemical and genetic analysis of both pathways, the physiological function of the A-type proteins of each pathway (IscA and SufA) is still unclear. Studies conducted in vitro suggest two possible functions for A-type proteins, as Fe-S scaffold/transfer proteins or as iron donors during cluster assembly. To resolve this issue, SufA was co-expressed in vivo with its cognate partner proteins from the suf operon, SufBCDSE. Native SufA purified anaerobically using this approach was unambiguously demonstrated to be a [2Fe-2S] protein by biochemical analysis and UV-Visible, Mössbauer, resonance Raman, and EPR spectroscopy. Furthermore, native [2Fe-2S] SufA can transfer its Fe-S cluster to both [2Fe-2S] and [4Fe-4S] apoproteins. These results clearly show that A-type proteins form Fe-S clusters in vivo and are competent to function as Fe-S transfer proteins as purified. This study resolves the contradictory results from previous in vitro studies and demonstrates the critical importance of providing in vivo partner proteins during protein over-expression to allow correct biochemical maturation of metalloproteins.
Iron-sulfur; Suf; Biosynthesis; Mösbbauer; A-type protein; Scaffold; Transfer; Ferredoxin; Aconitase
Iron-sulfur clusters are one of the most ubiquitous redox centers in biology. Ironically, iron-sulfur clusters are highly sensitive to reactive oxygen species. Disruption of iron-sulfur clusters will not only change the activity of proteins that host iron-sulfur clusters, the iron released from the disrupted iron-sulfur clusters will further promote the production of deleterious hydroxyl free radicals via the Fenton reaction. Here, we report that ferritin A (FtnA), a major iron-storage protein in Escherichia coli, is able to scavenge the iron released from the disrupted iron-sulfur clusters and alleviates the production of hydroxyl free radicals. Furthermore, we find that the iron stored in ferritin A can be retrieved by an iron chaperon IscA for the re-assembly of the iron-sulfur cluster in a proposed scaffold IscU in the presence of the thioredoxin reductase system which emulates normal intracellular redox potential. The results suggest that E. coli ferritin A may act as an iron buffer to sequester the iron released from the disrupted iron-sulfur clusters under oxidative stress conditions and to facilitate the re-assembly of the disrupted iron-sulfur clusters under normal physiological conditions.
Ferritin A; hydroxyl free radicals; iron-sulfur clusters; IscA; IscU
Escherichia coli [2Fe-2S]-ferredoxin
(Fdx) is encoded by the isc operon along with other
proteins involved in the ‘house-keeping’ mechanism of
iron–sulfur cluster biogenesis. Although it has been proposed
that Fdx supplies electrons to reduce sulfane sulfur (S0) produced by the cysteine desulfurase (IscS) to sulfide (S2–) as required for the assembly of Fe–S clusters on the scaffold
protein (IscU), direct experimental evidence for the role of Fdx has
been lacking. Here, we show that Fdx (in either oxidation state) interacts
directly with IscS. The interaction face on Fdx was found to include
residues close to its Fe–S cluster. In addition, C328 of IscS,
the residue known to pick up sulfur from the active site of IscS and
deliver it to the Cys residues of IscU, formed a disulfide bridge
with Fdx in the presence of an oxidizing agent. Electrons from reduced
Fdx were transferred to IscS only in the presence of l-cysteine,
but not to the C328S variant. We found that Fdx, IscU, and CyaY (the
bacterial frataxin) compete for overlapping binding sites on IscS.
This mutual exclusion explains the mechanism by which CyaY inhibits
Fe–S cluster biogenesis. These results (1) show that reduced
Fdx supplies one electron to the IscS complex as S0 is
produced by the enzymatic conversion of Cys to Ala and (2) explain
the role of Fdx as a member of the isc operon.
Crystal structures reveal how distinct sites on the cysteine desulfurase IscS bind two different sulfur-acceptor proteins, IscU and TusA, to transfer sulfur atoms for iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis and tRNA thiolation.
The cysteine desulfurase IscS is a highly conserved master enzyme initiating sulfur transfer via persulfide to a range of acceptor proteins involved in Fe-S cluster assembly, tRNA modifications, and sulfur-containing cofactor biosynthesis. Several IscS-interacting partners including IscU, a scaffold for Fe-S cluster assembly; TusA, the first member of a sulfur relay leading to sulfur incorporation into the wobble uridine of several tRNAs; ThiI, involved in tRNA modification and thiamine biosynthesis; and rhodanese RhdA are sulfur acceptors. Other proteins, such as CyaY/frataxin and IscX, also bind to IscS, but their functional roles are not directly related to sulfur transfer. We have determined the crystal structures of IscS-IscU and IscS-TusA complexes providing the first insight into their different modes of binding and the mechanism of sulfur transfer. Exhaustive mutational analysis of the IscS surface allowed us to map the binding sites of various partner proteins and to determine the functional and biochemical role of selected IscS and TusA residues. IscS interacts with its partners through an extensive surface area centered on the active site Cys328. The structures indicate that the acceptor proteins approach Cys328 from different directions and suggest that the conformational plasticity of a long loop containing this cysteine is essential for the ability of IscS to transfer sulfur to multiple acceptor proteins. The sulfur acceptors can only bind to IscS one at a time, while frataxin and IscX can form a ternary complex with IscU and IscS. Our data support the role of frataxin as an iron donor for IscU to form the Fe-S clusters.
Sulfur is incorporated into the backbone of almost all proteins in the form of the amino acids cysteine and methionine. In some proteins, sulfur is also present as iron–sulfur clusters, sulfur-containing vitamins, and cofactors. What's more, sulfur is important in the structure of tRNAs, which are crucial for translation of the genetic code from messenger RNA for protein synthesis. The biosynthetic pathways for assembly of these sulfur-containing molecules are generally well known, but the molecular details of how sulfur is delivered from protein to protein are less well understood. In bacteria, one of three pathways for sulfur delivery is the isc (iron-sulfur clusters) system. First, an enzyme called IscS extracts sulfur atoms from cysteine. This versatile enzyme can then interact with several proteins to deliver sulfur to various pathways that make iron–sulfur clusters or transfer sulfur to cofactors and tRNAs. This study describes in atomic detail precisely how IscS binds in a specific and yet distinct way to two different proteins: IscU (a scaffold protein for iron–sulfur cluster formation) and TusA (which delivers sulfur for tRNA modification). Furthermore, by introducing mutations into IscS, we have identified the region on the surface of this protein that is involved in binding its target proteins. These findings provide a molecular view of the protein–protein interactions involved in sulfur transfer and advance our understanding of how sulfur is delivered from one protein to another during biosynthesis of iron–sulfur clusters.
The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains two homologues of bacterial IscA proteins, designated Isa1p and Isa2p. Bacterial IscA is a product of the isc (iron-sulfur cluster) operon and has been suggested to participate in Fe-S cluster formation or repair. To test the function of yeast Isa1p and Isa2p, single or combinatorial disruptions were introduced in ISA1 and ISA2. The resultant isaΔ mutants were viable but exhibited a dependency on lysine and glutamate for growth and a respiratory deficiency due to an accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA. As with other yeast genes proposed to function in Fe-S cluster assembly, mitochondrial iron concentration was significantly elevated in the isa mutants, and the activities of the Fe-S cluster-containing enzymes aconitase and succinate dehydrogenase were dramatically reduced. An inspection of Isa-like proteins from bacteria to mammals revealed three invariant cysteine residues, which in the case of Isa1p and Isa2p are essential for function and may be involved in iron binding. As predicted, Isa1p is targeted to the mitochondrial matrix. However, Isa2p is present within the intermembrane space of the mitochondria. Our deletion analyses revealed that Isa2p harbors a bipartite N-terminal leader sequence containing a mitochondrial import signal linked to a second sequence that targets Isa2p to the intermembrane space. Both signals are needed for Isa2p function. A model for the nonredundant roles of Isa1p and Isa2p in delivering iron to sites of the Fe-S cluster assembly is discussed.
Friedreich's ataxia is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the frataxin gene that produces a predominantly mitochondrial protein whose primary function appears to be mitochondrial iron–sulfur cluster (ISC) biosynthesis. Previously we demonstrated that frataxin interacts with multiple components of the mammalian ISC assembly machinery. Here we demonstrate that frataxin interacts with the mammalian mitochondrial chaperone HSC20. We show that this interaction is iron-dependent. We also show that like frataxin, HSC20 interacts with multiple proteins involved in ISC biogenesis including the ISCU/Nfs1 ISC biogenesis complex and the GRP75 ISC chaperone. Furthermore, knockdown of HSC20 caused functional defects in activity of mitochondrial ISC-containing enzymes and also defects in ISC protein expression. Alterations up or down of frataxin expression caused compensatory changes in HSC20 expression inversely, as expected of two cooperating proteins operating in the same pathway and suggesting a potential therapeutic strategy for the disease. Knockdown of HSC20 altered cytosolic and mitochondrial iron pools and increased the expression of transferrin receptor 1 and iron regulatory protein 2 consistent with decreased iron bioavailability. These results indicate that HSC20 interacts with frataxin structurally and functionally and is important for ISC biogenesis and iron homeostasis in mammals. Furthermore, they suggest that HSC20 may act late in the ISC pathway as a chaperone in ISC delivery to apoproteins and that HSC20 should be included in multi-protein complex studies of mammalian ISC biogenesis.
Background: The bacterial Isc operon contains a ferredoxin whose precise role is unknown and a desulfurase enzyme.
Results: We have structurally characterized the complex of Escherichia coli ferredoxin with the desulfurase IscS.
Conclusion: We show that ferredoxin occupies a groove close to the active site.
Significance: Our results shed light into the mechanism of iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis.
The bacterial iron-sulfur cluster (isc) operon is an essential machine that is highly conserved from bacteria to primates and responsible for iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis. Among its components are the genes for the desulfurase IscS that provides sulfur for cluster formation, and a specialized ferredoxin (Fdx) whose role is still unknown. Preliminary evidence suggests that IscS and Fdx interact but nothing is known about the binding site and the role of the interaction. Here, we have characterized the interaction using a combination of biophysical tools and mutagenesis. By modeling the Fdx·IscS complex based on experimental restraints we show that Fdx competes for the binding site of CyaY, the bacterial ortholog of frataxin and sits in a cavity close to the enzyme active site. By in vivo mutagenesis in bacteria we prove the importance of the surface of interaction for cluster formation. Our data provide the first structural insights into the role of Fdx in cluster assembly.
Biophysics; Computer Modeling; Iron Metabolism; Iron-Sulfur Protein; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance; Protein Structure
The human mitochondrial proteins ISCA1, ISCA2, and IBA57 are essential for the generation of mitochondrial [4Fe-4S] proteins in a late step of Fe/S protein biogenesis. This process is important for mitochondrial physiology, as documented by drastic enlargement of the organelles and the loss of cristae membranes in the absence of these proteins.
Members of the bacterial and mitochondrial iron–sulfur cluster (ISC) assembly machinery include the so-called A-type ISC proteins, which support the assembly of a subset of Fe/S apoproteins. The human genome encodes two A-type proteins, termed ISCA1 and ISCA2, which are related to Saccharomyces cerevisiae Isa1 and Isa2, respectively. An additional protein, Iba57, physically interacts with Isa1 and Isa2 in yeast. To test the cellular role of human ISCA1, ISCA2, and IBA57, HeLa cells were depleted for any of these proteins by RNA interference technology. Depleted cells contained massively swollen and enlarged mitochondria that were virtually devoid of cristae membranes, demonstrating the importance of these proteins for mitochondrial biogenesis. The activities of mitochondrial [4Fe-4S] proteins, including aconitase, respiratory complex I, and lipoic acid synthase, were diminished following depletion of the three proteins. In contrast, the mitochondrial [2Fe-2S] enzyme ferrochelatase and cellular heme content were unaffected. We further provide evidence against a localization and direct Fe/S protein maturation function of ISCA1 and ISCA2 in the cytosol. Taken together, our data suggest that ISCA1, ISCA2, and IBA57 are specifically involved in the maturation of mitochondrial [4Fe-4S] proteins functioning late in the ISC assembly pathway.
Reduced levels of frataxin, an essential protein of as yet unknown function, are responsible for causing the neurodegenerative pathology Friedreich's ataxia. Independent reports have linked frataxin to iron–sulphur cluster assembly through interactions with the two central components of this machinery: desulphurase Nfs1/IscS and the scaffold protein Isu/IscU. In this study, we use a combination of biophysical methods to define the structural bases of the interaction of CyaY (the bacterial orthologue of frataxin) with the IscS/IscU complex. We show that CyaY binds IscS as a monomer in a pocket between the active site and the IscS dimer interface. Recognition does not require iron and occurs through electrostatic interactions of complementary charged residues. Mutations at the complex interface affect the rates of enzymatic cluster formation. CyaY binding strengthens the affinity of the IscS/IscU complex. Our data suggest a new paradigm for understanding the role of frataxin as a regulator of IscS functions.
Frataxin is an essential protein that has been linked to iron–sulphur cluster assembly, and reduced levels are associated with Friedrich's ataxia. In this study, a combination of techniques is used to probe the interactions of the bacterial frataxin orthologue CyaY with the iron–sulphur cluster assembly machinery.
The Paracoccus denitrificans transcription factor FnrP has been characterized using artificial FNR-dependent promoter-lacZ fusion plasmids in Escherichia coli. FnrP can activate both class I and class II FNR-dependent promoters in response to anoxia but shows a marked preference for the class II promoter, where the FNR binding site is centered at −41.5 with respect to the transcription start site. FnrP was found to be inactive in an iscS mutant in vivo, demonstrating a requirement for cysteine desulfurase activity to assemble an iron-sulfur cluster in FnrP. Accordingly, an iron-sulfur cluster could be reconstituted into the purified protein in vitro using cysteine desulfurase, ferrous ions, and cysteine. Thus, FnrP is a true orthologue of FNR from E. coli and switches on target genes in response to anoxia. Inactivation of FnrP by oxygen very likely involves the oxidative disassembly of an iron-sulfur cluster. Possible ligands for the iron-sulfur cluster were identified by substituting each of the seven cysteine residues with serine and characterizing the altered proteins in vivo. Four substituted proteins showed activities less than 5% of the wild type, and so identify the four cysteines (Cys-14, Cys-17, Cys-25, and Cys-113) that are most likely to be involved in cluster ligation. The effects of N-oxides, NO-releasing compounds and a nitrosating agent on FNR and FnrP activity were investigated in vivo using the reporter system. Both proteins are very sensitive to the inclusion of sodium nitroprusside (a source of NO+) in defined growth media but are only moderately sensitive to those sources of NO that were tested.
In the bacterial ISC system for iron–sulfur cluster
IscU acts as a primary scaffold protein, and the molecular co-chaperones
HscA and HscB specifically interact with IscU to facilitate ATP-driven
cluster transfer. In this work, cluster transfer from Azotobacter
vinelandii [Fe2S2]2+ cluster-bound
IscU to apo-Grx5, a general purpose monothiol glutaredoxin in A. vinelandii, was monitored by circular dichroism spectroscopy,
in the absence and in the presence of HscA/HscB/Mg-ATP. The results
indicate a 700-fold enhancement in the rate of [Fe2S2]2+ cluster transfer in the presence of the co-chaperones
and Mg-ATP, yielding a second-order rate constant of 20 000
M–1 min–1 at 23 °C. Thus,
HscA and HscB are required for efficient ATP-dependent [Fe2S2]2+ cluster transfer from IscU to Grx5. The
results support a role for monothiol Grx’s in storing and transporting
[Fe2S2]2+ clusters assembled on IscU
and illustrate the limitations of interpreting in vitro cluster transfer studies involving [Fe2S2]-IscU
in the absence of the dedicated HscA/HscB co-chaperone system.
Iron regulatory protein 1 (IRP1) controls the translation or stability of several mRNAs by binding to “iron-responsive elements” within their untranslated regions. In iron-replete cells, IRP1 assembles a cubane iron-sulfur cluster (ISC) that inhibits RNA-binding activity and converts the protein to cytosolic aconitase. We show that the constitutive IRP1C437S mutant, which fails to form an ISC, is destabilized by iron. Thus, exposure of H1299 cells to ferric ammonium citrate reduced the half-life of transfected IRP1C437S from ∼24 h to ∼10 h. The iron-dependent degradation of IRP1C437S involved ubiquitination, required ongoing transcription and translation, and could be efficiently blocked by the proteasomal inhibitors MG132 and lactacystin. Similar results were obtained with overexpressed wild-type IRP1, which predominated in the apo-form even in iron-loaded H1299 cells, possibly due to saturation of the ISC assembly machinery. Importantly, inhibition of ISC biogenesis in HeLa cells by small interfering RNA knockdown of the cysteine desulfurase Nfs1 sensitized endogenous IRP1 for iron-dependent degradation. Collectively, these data uncover a mechanism for the regulation of IRP1 abundance as a means to control its RNA-binding activity, when the ISC assembly pathway is impaired.
A deficiency in mitochondrial frataxin causes an increased generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS), which may contribute to the cell degenerative features of Friedreich’s ataxia. In this work the authors demonstrate mitochondrial iron–sulfur cluster (ISC) defects and mitochondrial heme defects, and suggest how both may contribute to increased mitochondrial ROS in lymphoblasts from human patients. Mutant cells are deficient in the ISC-requiring mitochondrial enzymes aconitase and succinate dehydrogenase, but not in the non-ISC mitochondrial enzyme citrate synthase; also, the mitochondrial iron–sulfur scaffold protein IscU2 co-immunoprecipitates with frataxin in vivo. Presumably as a consequence of the iron–sulfur cluster defect, cytochrome c heme is deficient in mutants, as well as heme-dependent Complex IV. Mitochondrial superoxide is elevated in mutants, which may be a consequence of cytochrome c deficiency. Hydrogen peroxide, glutathione peroxidase activity, and oxidized glutathione (GSSG) are each elevated in mutants, consistent with activation of the glutathione peroxidase pathway. Mutant status blunted the effects of Complex III and IV inhibitors, but not a Complex I inhibitor, on superoxide production. This suggests that heme defects late in the electron transport chain of mutants are responsible for increased mutant superoxide. The impact of ISC and heme defects on ROS production with age are discussed.
Despite the prominence of iron–sulfur cluster (ISC) proteins in bioenergetics, intermediary metabolism, and redox regulation of cellular, mitochondrial, and nuclear processes, these proteins have been given scarce attention in Drosophila. Moreover, biosynthesis and delivery of ISCs to target proteins requires a highly regulated molecular network that spans different cellular compartments. The only Drosophila ISC biosynthetic protein studied to date is frataxin, in attempts to model Friedreich’s ataxia, a disease arising from reduced expression of the human frataxin homologue. One of several proteins involved in ISC biogenesis is heat shock protein cognate 20 (Hsc20). Here we characterize two piggyBac insertion mutants in Drosophila Hsc20 that display larval growth arrest and deficiencies in aconitase and succinate dehydrogenase activities, but not in isocitrate dehydrogenase activity; phenotypes also observed with ubiquitous frataxin RNA interference. Furthermore, a disruption of iron homeostasis in the mutant flies was evidenced by an apparent reduction in induction of intestinal ferritin with ferric iron accumulating in a subcellular pattern reminiscent of mitochondria. These phenotypes were specific to intestinal cell types that regulate ferritin expression, but were notably absent in the iron cells where ferritin is constitutively expressed and apparently translated independently of iron regulatory protein 1A. Hsc20 mutant flies represent an independent tool to disrupt ISC biogenesis in vivo without using the RNA interference machinery.
Mitochondria; Iron–sulfur clusters; DnaJ protein; Iron regulatory protein; Iron regulatory element
The highly-conserved protein, IscU, serves as the scaffold for iron-sulfur cluster assembly in the ISC system common to bacteria and eukaryotic mitochondria. The apo-form of IscU from Escherichia coli has been shown to populate two slowly interconverting conformational states: one structured (S) and one dynamically disordered (D). Furthermore, single-site amino acid substitutions have been shown to shift the equilibrium between the metamorphic states. Here, we report three-dimensional structural models derived from NMR spectroscopy for the S-state of wild-type (WT) apo-IscU, determined under conditions where the protein was 80% in the S-state and 20% in the D-state, and for the S-state of apo-IscU(D39A), determined under conditions where the protein was ~ 95% in the S-state. We have used these structures in interpreting the effects of single site amino acid substitutions that alter %S = (100×[S])/([S]+[D]). These include different residues at the same site, %S: D39V > D39L > D39A > D39G ≈ WT, and alanine substitutions at different sites, %S: N90A > S107A≈E111A > WT. Hydrophobic residues at residue 39 appear to stabilize the S-state by decreasing the flexibility of the loops that contain the conserved cysteine residues. The alanine substitutions at positions 90, 107, and 111, on the other hand stabilize the protein without affecting the loop dynamics. In general, the stability of the S-state correlates with the compactness and thermal stability of the variant.
conformational equilibrium; effects of single amino acid substitutions; solution structure determination; dynamics; NMR
A-type carrier (ATC) proteins of the Isc (iron-sulfur cluster) and Suf (sulfur mobilization) iron-sulfur ([Fe-S]) cluster biogenesis pathways are proposed to traffic preformed [Fe-S] clusters to apoprotein targets. In this study, we analyzed the roles of the ATC proteins ErpA, IscA, and SufA in the maturation of the nitrate-inducible, multisubunit anaerobic respiratory enzymes formate dehydrogenase N (Fdh-N) and nitrate reductase (Nar). Mutants lacking SufA had enhanced activities of both enzymes. While both Fdh-N and Nar activities were strongly reduced in an iscA mutant, both enzymes were inactive in an erpA mutant and in a mutant unable to synthesize the [Fe-S] cluster scaffold protein IscU. It could be shown for both Fdh-N and Nar that loss of enzyme activity correlated with absence of the [Fe-S] cluster-containing small subunit. Moreover, a slowly migrating form of the catalytic subunit FdnG of Fdh-N was observed, consistent with impeded twin arginine translocation (TAT)-dependent transport. The highly related Fdh-O enzyme was also inactive in the erpA mutant. Although the Nar enzyme has its catalytic subunit NarG localized in the cytoplasm, it also exhibited aberrant migration in an erpA iscA mutant, suggesting that these modular enzymes lack catalytic integrity due to impaired cofactor biosynthesis. Cross-complementation experiments demonstrated that multicopy IscA could partially compensate for lack of ErpA with respect to Fdh-N activity but not Nar activity. These findings suggest that ErpA and IscA have overlapping roles in assembly of these anaerobic respiratory enzymes but demonstrate that ErpA is essential for the production of active enzymes.
Iron-sulfur (FeS) proteins are present in all living organisms and play important roles in electron transport and metalloenzyme catalysis. The maturation of FeS proteins in eukaryotes is an essential function of mitochondria, but little is known about this process in amitochondriate eukaryotes. Here we report on the identification and analysis of two genes encoding critical FeS cluster (Isc) biosynthetic proteins from the amitochondriate human pathogen Entamoeba histolytica.
E. histolytica IscU and IscS were found to contain all features considered essential for their biological activity, including amino acid residues involved in substrate and/or co-factor binding. The IscU protein differs significantly from other eukaryotic homologs and resembles the long type isoforms encountered in some bacteria. Phylogenetic analyses of E. histolytica IscS and IscU showed a close relationship with homologs from Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni, to the exclusion of mitochondrial isoforms.
The bacterial-type FeS cluster assembly genes of E. histolytica suggest their lateral acquisition from epsilon proteobacteria. This is a clear example of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from eubacteria to unicellular eukaryotic organisms, a phenomenon known to contribute significantly to the evolution of eukaryotic genomes.
IscU is a scaffold protein that functions in iron-sulfur cluster assembly and transfer. Its critical importance has been recently underscored by the finding that a single intronic mutation in the human iscu gene is associated with a myopathy resulting from deficient succinate dehydrogenase and aconitase [Mochel, F., Knight, M. A., Tong, W. H., Hernandez, D., Ayyad, K., Taivassalo, T., Andersen, P. M., Singleton, A., Rouault, T. A., Fischbeck, K. H., and Haller, R. G. (2008) Am. J. Hum. Genet. 82, 652–660]. IscU functions through interactions with a chaperone protein HscA and a cochaperone protein HscB. To probe the molecular basis for these interactions, we have used NMR spectroscopy to investigate the solution structure of IscU from Escherichia coli and its interaction with HscB from the same organism. We found that wild-type apo-IscU in solution exists as two distinct conformations: one largely disordered and one largely ordered except for the metal binding residues. The two states interconvert on the millisecond time scale. The ordered conformation is stabilized by the addition of zinc or by the single site IscU mutation, D39A. We used apo-IscU(D39A) as a surrogate for the folded state of wild-type IscU and assigned its NMR spectrum. These assignments made it possible to identify the region of IscU with the largest structural differences in the two conformational states. Subsequently, by following the NMR signals of apo-IscU(D39A) upon addition of HscB, we identified the most perturbed regions as the two N-terminal β-strands and the C-terminal α-helix. On the basis of these results and analysis of IscU sequences from multiple species, we have identified the surface region of IscU that interacts with HscB. We conclude that the IscU:HscB complex exists as two (or more) distinct states that interconvert at a rate much faster than the dissociation of the complex and that HscB binds to and stabilizes the ordered state of apo-IscU.
The LYR family consists of proteins of diverse functions that contain the conserved tripeptide ‘LYR’ near the N-terminus, and it includes Isd11, which was previously observed to have an important role in iron–sulfur (Fe–S) cluster biogenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Here, we have cloned and characterized human ISD11 and shown that human ISD11 forms a stable complex in vivo with the human cysteine desulfurase (ISCS), which generates the inorganic sulfur needed for Fe–S protein biogenesis. Similar to ISCS, we have found that ISD11 localizes to the mitochondrial compartment, as expected, but also to the nucleus of mammalian cells. Using RNA-interference techniques, we have shown that suppression of human ISD11 inactivated mitochondrial and cytosolic aconitases. In addition, ISD11 suppression activated iron-responsive element-binding activity of iron regulatory protein 1, increased protein levels of iron regulatory protein 2, and resulted in abnormal punctate ferric iron accumulations in cells. These results indicate that ISD11 is important in the biogenesis of Fe–S clusters in mammalian cells, and its loss disrupts normal mitochondrial and cytosolic iron homeostasis.
In this study, the function of two established Fe-S cluster biogenesis pathways, Isc (Iron sulfur cluster) and Suf (Sulfur mobilization), was compared under aerobic and anaerobic growth conditions by measuring the activity of the Escherichia coli global anaerobic regulator FNR. A [4Fe-4S] cluster is required for activity of FNR under anaerobic conditions. Assaying expression of FNR-dependent promoters in strains containing various deletions of the iscSUAhscBAfdx operon, revealed that under anaerobic conditions FNR activity was reduced by 60% in the absence of the Isc pathway. In contrast, a mutant lacking the entire Suf pathway had normal FNR activity, although overexpression of the suf operon fully rescued the anaerobic defect in FNR activity in strains lacking the Isc pathway. Expression of the sufA promoter and levels of SufD protein were upregulated 2–3 fold in Isc− strains under anaerobic conditions, suggesting that increased expression of the Suf pathway may be partially responsible for the FNR activity remaining in strains lacking the Isc pathway. In contrast, use of the O2-stable [4Fe-4S] cluster FNR variant, FNR-L28H, showed that overexpression of the suf operon did not restore FNR activity to strains lacking the Isc pathway under aerobic conditions. In addition, activity of FNR-L28H was more impaired under aerobic conditions compared to anaerobic conditions. The greater requirement for the Isc pathway under aerobic conditions was not due to a change in the rate of Fe-S cluster acquisition by FNR-L28H between aerobic and anaerobic conditions as shown by 55Fe labelling experiments. Using 35S-methionine pulse-chase assays, we observed that the Isc pathway, but not the Suf pathway, is the major pathway required for conversion of O2-inactivated apo-FNR to [4Fe-4S]-FNR upon the onset of anaerobic growth conditions. Taken together, these findings indicate a major role for the Isc pathway in FNR Fe-S cluster biogenesis under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
FNR; Fe-S cluster biogenesis; Isc; Suf; oxygen
Shigella flexneri, a causative agent of bacterial dysentery, possesses two predicted iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis systems called Suf and Isc. S. flexneri strains containing deletion mutations in the entire suf operon (UR011) or the iscSUA genes (UR022) were constructed. Both mutants were defective in surviving exposure to oxidative stress. The suf mutant showed growth that was comparable to that of the parental strain in both iron-replete and iron-limiting media; however, the isc mutant showed reduced growth, relative to the parental strain, in both media. Although the suf mutant formed wild-type plaques on Henle cell monolayers, the isc mutant was unable to form plaques on Henle cell monolayers because the strain was noninvasive. Expression from both the suf and isc promoters increased in iron-limiting media and in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. Iron repression of the suf promoter was mediated by Fur, and increased suf expression in iron-limiting media was enhanced by the presence of IscR. Iron repression of the isc promoter was mediated by IscR. Hydrogen peroxide-dependent induction of suf expression, but not isc expression, was mediated by OxyR. Furthermore, IscR was a positive regulator of suf expression in the presence of hydrogen peroxide and a negative regulator of isc expression in the absence of hydrogen peroxide. Expression from the S. flexneri suf and isc promoters increased when Shigella was within Henle cells, and our data suggest that the intracellular signal mediating this increased expression is reduced iron levels.
The importance of mitochondrial iron–sulfur cluster (ISC) biogenesis for human health has been well established, but the roles of some components of this critical pathway still remain uncharacterized in mammals. Among them is human heat shock cognate protein 20 (hHSC20), the putative human homolog of the specialized DnaJ type co-chaperones, which are crucial for bacterial and fungal ISC assembly. Here, we show that the human HSC20 protein can complement for its counterpart in yeast, Jac1p, and interacts with its proposed human partners, hISCU and hHSPA9. hHSC20 is expressed in various human tissues and localizes mainly to the mitochondria in HeLa cells. However, small amounts were also detected extra-mitochondrially. RNA interference-mediated depletion of hHSC20 specifically reduced the activities of both mitochondrial and cytosolic ISC-containing enzymes. The recovery of inactivated ISC enzymes was markedly delayed after an oxidative insult of hHSC20-deficient cells. Conversely, overexpression of hHSC20 substantially protected cells from oxidative insults. These results imply that hHSC20 is an integral component of the human ISC biosynthetic machinery that is particularly important in the assembly of ISCs under conditions of oxidative stress. A cysteine-rich N-terminal domain, which clearly distinguishes hHSC20 from the specialized DnaJ type III proteins of fungi and most bacteria, was found to be important for the integrity and function of the human co-chaperone.