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J Biol Chem. 1999 May 21;274(21):15052-8.

Ligand-induced structural alterations in human iron regulatory protein-1 revealed by protein footprinting.

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Unité Propre de Recherche 9002 du CNRS, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, 15 rue René Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


Human iron regulatory protein-1 (IRP-1) is a bifunctional protein that regulates iron metabolism by binding to mRNAs encoding proteins involved in iron uptake, storage, and utilization. Intracellular iron accumulation regulates IRP-1 function by promoting the assembly of an iron-sulfur cluster, conferring aconitase activity to IRP-1, and hindering RNA binding. Using protein footprinting, we have studied the structure of the two functional forms of IRP-1 and have mapped the surface of the iron-responsive element (IRE) binding site. Binding of the ferritin IRE or of the minimal regulatory region of transferrin receptor mRNA induced strong protections against proteolysis in the region spanning amino acids 80 to 187, which are located in the putative cleft thought to be involved in RNA binding. In addition, IRE-induced protections were also found in the C-terminal domain at Arg-721 and Arg-728. These data implicate a bipartite IRE binding site located in the putative cleft of IRP-1. The aconitase form of IRP-1 adopts a more compact structure because strong reductions of cleavage were detected in two defined areas encompassing residues 149 to 187 and 721 to 735. Thus both ligands of apo-IRP-1, the IRE and the 4Fe-4S cluster, induce distinct but overlapping alterations in protease accessibility. These data provide evidences for structural changes in IRP-1 upon cluster formation that affect the accessibility of residues constituting the RNA binding site.

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