Levels of control exerted by the Isc iron-sulfur cluster system on biosynthesis of the formate hydrogenlyase complex

Constanze Pinske, Monique Jaroschinsky, R. Gary Sawers

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    The membrane-associated formate hydrogenlyase (FHL) complex of bacteria like Escherichia coli is responsible for the disproportionation of formic acid into the gaseous products carbon dioxide and dihydrogen. It comprises minimally seven proteins including FdhF and HycE, the catalytic subunits of formate dehydrogenase H and hydrogenase 3, respectively. Four proteins of the FHL complex have iron sulphur cluster ([Fe-S]) cofactors. Biosynthesis of [Fe-S] is principally catalysed by the Isc or Suf systems and each comprises proteins for assembly and for delivery of [Fe-S]. This study demonstrates that the Isc system is essential for biosynthesis of an active FHL complex. In the absence of the IscU assembly protein no hydrogen production or activity of FHL subcomponents was detected. A deletion of the iscU gene also resulted in reduced intracellular formate levels partially due to impaired synthesis of pyruvate formate-lyase, which is dependent on the [Fe-S]-containing regulator FNR. This caused reduced expression of the formate-inducible fdhF gene. The A-type carrier (ATC) proteins IscA and ErpA probably deliver [Fe-S] to specific apoprotein components of the FHL complex because mutants lacking either protein exhibited strongly reduced hydrogen production. Neither ATC protein could compensate for the lack of the other, suggesting that they had independent roles in [Fe-S] delivery to complex components. Together, the data indicate that the Isc system modulates FHL complex biosynthesis directly by provision of [Fe-S] as well as indirectly by influencing gene expression through the delivery of [Fe-S] to key regulators and enzymes that ultimately control the generation and oxidation of formate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1179-1189
    Number of pages11
    Issue number6
    Early online date4 Apr 2013
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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