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© 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc. In Escherichia coli, sulfur in iron-sulfur clusters is primarily derived from L-cysteine via the cysteine desulfurase IscS. However, the iron donor for iron-sulfur cluster assembly remains elusive. Previous studies have shown that, among the iron-sulfur cluster assembly proteins in E. coli, IscA has a unique and strong iron-binding activity and that the iron-bound IscA can efficiently provide iron for iron-sulfur cluster assembly in proteins in vitro, indicating that IscA may act as an iron chaperone for iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis. Here we report that deletion of IscA and its paralog SufA in E. coli cells results in the accumulation of a red-colored cysteine desulfurase IscS under aerobic growth conditions. Depletion of intracellular iron using a membrane-permeable iron chelator, 2,2′-dipyridyl, also leads to the accumulation of red IscS in wild-type E. coli cells, suggesting that the deletion of IscA/SufA may be emulated by depletion of intracellular iron. Purified red IscS has an absorption peak at 528 nm in addition to the peak at 395 nm of pyridoxal 5′-phosphate. When red IscS is oxidized by hydrogen peroxide, the peak at 528 nm is shifted to 510 nm, which is similar to that of alanine-quinonoid intermediate in cysteine desulfurases. Indeed, red IscS can also be produced in vitro by incubating wild-type IscS with excess L-alanine and sulfide. The results led us to propose that deletion of IscA/SufA may disrupt the iron delivery for iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis, therefore impeding sulfur delivery by IscS, and result in the accumulation of red IscS in E. coli cells.

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Journal of Biological Chemistry

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