Mrs3p, Mrs4p, and frataxin provide iron for fe-s cluster synthesis in mitochondria

Yan Zhang, Elise R. Lyver, Simon A.B. Knight, Debkumar Pain, Emmanuel Lesuisse, Andrew Dancis

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Yeast Mrs3p and Mrs4p are evolutionarily conserved mitochondrial carrier proteins that transport iron into mitochondria under some conditions. Yeast frataxin (Yfh1p), the homolog of the human protein implicated in Friedreich ataxia, is involved in iron homeostasis. However, its precise functions are controversial. Anaerobically grown triple mutant cells (Δmrs3/4/ Delta;yfh1) displayed a severe growth defect corrected by in vivo iron supplementation. Because anaerobically grown cells do not synthesize heme, and they do not experience oxidative stress, this growth defect was most likely due to Fe-S cluster deficiency. Fe-S cluster formation was assessed in anaerobically grown cells shifted to air for a brief period. In isolated mitochondria, Fe-S clusters were detected on newly imported yeast ferredoxin precursor and on endogenous aconitase by means of [35S]cysteine labeling and native gel separation. New cluster formation was dependent on iron addition to mitochondria, and the iron concentration dependence was shifted dramatically upward in the Δmrs3/4 mutant, indicating a role of Mrs3/4p in iron transport. The frataxin mutant strain lacked protein import capacity because of low mitochondrial membrane potential, although this was partially restored by growth in the presence of high iron. Under these conditions, a kinetic defect in new Fe-S cluster formation was still noted. Import of frataxin into frataxin-minus isolated mitochondria promptly corrected the Fe-S cluster assembly defect without further iron addition. These findings show that Mrs3/4p transports iron into mitochondria, whereas frataxin makes iron already within mitochondria available for Fe-S cluster synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22493-22502
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 11 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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