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J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Jun 5;135(22):8117-20. doi: 10.1021/ja401950a. Epub 2013 May 20.

[2Fe-2S]-ferredoxin binds directly to cysteine desulfurase and supplies an electron for iron-sulfur cluster assembly but is displaced by the scaffold protein or bacterial frataxin.

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Department of Biochemistry and ‡Center for Eukaryotic Structural Genomics, University of Wisconsin , Madison, Wisconsin 53706, United States.


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 (S(0)) produced by the cysteine desulfurase (IscS) to sulfide (S(2-)) 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 S(0) is produced by the enzymatic conversion of Cys to Ala and (2) explain the role of Fdx as a member of the isc operon.

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