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J Biol Chem. 2003 Oct 3;278(40):38352-9. Epub 2003 Jul 21.

Biogenesis of Fe-S cluster by the bacterial Suf system: SufS and SufE form a new type of cysteine desulfurase.

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LCB-CNRS, IBSM, 31 Chemin Joseph Aiguier, 13402 Marseille 20, France.


Biosynthesis of iron-sulfur clusters (Fe-S) depends on multiprotein systems. Recently, we described the SUF system of Escherichia coli and Erwinia chrysanthemi as being important for Fe-S biogenesis under stressful conditions. The SUF system is made of six proteins: SufC is an atypical cytoplasmic ABC-ATPase, which forms a complex with SufB and SufD; SufA plays the role of a scaffold protein for assembly of iron-sulfur clusters and delivery to target proteins; SufS is a cysteine desulfurase which mobilizes the sulfur atom from cysteine and provides it to the cluster; SufE has no associated function yet. Here we demonstrate that: (i) SufE and SufS are both cystosolic as all members of the SUF system; (ii) SufE is a homodimeric protein; (iii) SufE forms a complex with SufS as shown by the yeast two-hybrid system and by affinity chromatography; (iv) binding of SufE to SufS is responsible for a 50-fold stimulation of the cysteine desulfurase activity of SufS. This is the first example of a two-component cysteine desulfurase enzyme.

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