Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are essential protein cofactors required for numerous cellular processes including tRNA thiolation. In yeast and humans, Fe-S proteins are found in mitochondria and cytoplasm. A specialized system in mitochondria, called the Iron-Sulfur Cluster (ISC) machinery, catalyzes Fe-S cluster synthesis, and isolated mitochondria by themselves can form clusters. Fe-S cluster assembly in cytosol requires the Cytoplasmic Iron-Sulfur Protein Assembly (CIA) machinery. However, the CIA system does not work by itself. We hypothesize that the ISC machinery in mitochondria generates a sulfur-containing intermediate (Sint), which is exported by the ATP-dependent transporter Atm1 and used by the CIA in the cytosol for Fe-S cluster synthesis and tRNA thiolation. In novel assays using 35S-cysteine as the sulfur donor, we find that isolated cytoplasm cannot synthesize Fe-S clusters or thiolate tRNAs. However, addition of mitochondria or a mitochondrial generated sulfur species to the cytoplasm allows these processes to occur.
Aim 1 is to define the requirements for formation and use of Sint in yeast - mitochondria produce it and cytoplasm uses it for Fe-S cluster assembly and tRNA thiolation. Experiments will involve manipulations of mitochondrial Fe-S cluster synthesis, and separate manipulations of nucleotides in mitochondria or cytosol.
Aim 2 is to define the function of Atm1 and its export substrate. Intact atm1 mutant mitochondria did not support cytoplasmic Fe-S cluster assembly or tRNA thiolation in our assays. Experiments will determine if these processes can be restored by intact atm1 mitochondria with newly imported Atm1, or by bypassing the export block in atm1 through disruption of mitochondrial membranes. The active Sint species exported by Atm1 will be identified by chromatographic purifications, mass spectrometry, and other biophysical methods.
Aim 3 is to define the source of iron and the role of Dre2 in Fe-S cluster synthesis in yeast cytoplasm. Experiments will determine the origin of iron for cytosolic cluster assembly - mitochondria or cytoplasm. Dre2 is an essential CIA component, and it forms a reductase complex with Tah18. The ability of purified Dre2?Tah18 complex to restore Fe-S cluster assembly in cytoplasm lacking Dre2 (or Tah18) will be examined.
Aim 4 is to define the functions of ABCB7 (human Atm1) and CIAPIN1 (human Dre2) in cytoplasmic Fe-S cluster assembly and apoptosis in mammalian cells. These proteins might perform their anti-apoptotic functions via effects on cytosolic Fe-S cluster assembly, and this hypothesis will be tested. Fe-S cluster biogenesis is conserved, and all of the proteins mentioned above have orthologs in humans and yeast. Perturbed Fe-S cluster assembly results in disease manifestations such as bone marrow failure, neurodegeneration and myopathy. In sideroblastic anemia associated with ABCB7 dysfunction, red cell precursors accumulate toxic amounts of mitochondrial iron, and they undergo apoptosis. Mitochondria- cytoplasm interactions are central to causation of this and other human diseases.

Public Health Relevance

Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters proteins are located in mitochondria and cytoplasm, where they perform essential functions such as respiration, ribosome assembly, and DNA repair. We found that isolated mitochondria by themselves are able to synthesize Fe-S clusters, but isolated cytoplasm cannot. Addition of mitochondria to the cytoplasm however, supports a complete Fe-S assembly process. Here we propose to delineate Fe-S cluster assembly in the cytoplasm with an eye to defining the mitochondrial contribution to the process;the results may identify a vital mitochondria-cytoplasm interaction required for cell survival.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Anderson, Vernon
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Rutgers University
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United States
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