- NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Biogenesis of iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters is an indispensable process in living cells. In Escherichia coli, the SUF biosynthetic system consists of six proteins among which SufB, SufC and SufD form the SufBCD complex, which serves as a scaffold for the assembly of nascent Fe-S cluster. Despite recent progress in biochemical and structural studies, little is known about the specific regions providing the scaffold. Here we present a systematic mutational analysis of SufB and SufD and map their critical residues in two distinct regions. One region is located on the N-terminal side of the beta-helix core domain of SufB, where biochemical studies revealed that Cys254 of SufB (SufB(C254)) is essential for sulfur-transfer from SufE. Another functional region resides at an interface between SufB and SufD, where three residues (SufB(C405), SufB(E434), and SufD(H360)) appear to comprise the site for de novo cluster formation. Furthermore, we demonstrate a plausible tunnel in the beta-helix core domain of SufB through which the sulfur species may be transferred from SufB(C254) to SufB(C405). In contrast, a canonical Fe-S cluster binding motif (CxxCxxxC) of SufB is dispensable. These findings provide new insights into the mechanism of Fe-S cluster assembly by the SufBCD complex.
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