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FEBS Lett. 2013 Apr 17;587(8):1172-9. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Metamorphic protein IscU alternates conformations in the course of its role as the scaffold protein for iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis and delivery.

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Biochemistry Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 433 Babcock Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


IscU from Escherichia coli, the scaffold protein for iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis and delivery, populates a complex energy landscape. IscU exists as two slowly interconverting species: one (S) is largely structured with all four peptidyl-prolyl bonds trans; the other (D) is partly disordered but contains an ordered domain that stabilizes two cis peptidyl-prolyl peptide bonds. At pH 8.0, the S-state is maximally populated at 25 °C, but its population decreases at higher or lower temperatures or at lower pH. The D-state binds preferentially to the cysteine desulfurase (IscS), which generates and transfers sulfur to IscU cysteine residues to form persulfides. The S-state is stabilized by Fe-S cluster binding and interacts preferentially with the DnaJ-type co-chaperone (HscB), which targets the holo-IscU:HscB complex to the DnaK-type chaperone (HscA) in its ATP-bound from. HscA is involved in delivery of Fe-S clusters to acceptor proteins by a mechanism dependent on ATP hydrolysis. Upon conversion of ATP to ADP, HscA binds the D-state of IscU ensuring release of the cluster and HscB. These findings have led to a more complete model for cluster biosynthesis and delivery.

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