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EMBO J. 2006 Feb 22;25(4):900-9. Epub 2006 Jan 26.

AtSufE is an essential activator of plastidic and mitochondrial desulfurases in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Mathematics and Natural Science, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway.


Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are vital prosthetic groups for Fe-S proteins involved in fundamental processes such as electron transfer, metabolism, sensing and signaling. In plants, sulfur (SUF) protein-mediated Fe-S cluster biogenesis involves iron acquisition and sulfur mobilization, processes suggested to be plastidic. Here we have shown that AtSufE in Arabidopsis rescues growth defects in SufE-deficient Escherichia coli. In contrast to other SUF proteins, AtSufE localizes to plastids and mitochondria interacting with the plastidic AtSufS and mitochondrial AtNifS1 cysteine desulfurases. AtSufE activates AtSufS and AtNifS1 cysteine desulfurization, and AtSufE activity restoration in either plastids or mitochondria is not sufficient to rescue embryo lethality in AtSufE loss-of-function mutants. AtSufE overexpression induces AtSufS and AtNifS1 expression, which in turn leads to elevated cysteine desulfurization activity, chlorosis and retarded development. Our data demonstrate that plastidic and mitochondrial Fe-S cluster biogenesis shares a common, essential component, and that AtSufE acts as an activator of plastidic and mitochondrial desulfurases in Arabidopsis.

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