The Structures of Frataxin Oligomers Reveal the Mechanism for the Delivery and Detoxification of Iron
ABSTRACT Defects in the mitochondrial protein frataxin are responsible for Friedreich ataxia, a neurodegenerative and cardiac disease that affects 1:40,000 children. Here, we present the crystal structures of the iron-free and iron-loaded frataxin trimers, and a single-particle electron microscopy reconstruction of a 24 subunit oligomer. The structures reveal fundamental aspects of the frataxin mechanism. The trimer has a central channel in which one atom of iron binds. Two conformations of the channel with different metal-binding affinities suggest that a gating mechanism controls whether the bound iron is delivered to other proteins or transferred to detoxification sites. The trimer constitutes the basic structural unit of the 24 subunit oligomer. The architecture of this oligomer and several features of the trimer structure demonstrate striking similarities to the iron-storage protein ferritin. The data reveal how stepwise assembly provides frataxin with the structural flexibility to perform two functions: metal delivery and detoxification.
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ABSTRACT: Folding and function may impose different requirements on the amino acid sequences of proteins, thus potentially giving rise to conflict. Such a conflict, or frustration, can result in the formation of partially misfolded intermediates that can compromise folding and promote aggregation. We investigate this phenomenon by studying frataxin, a protein whose normal function is to facilitate the formation of iron-sulfur clusters but whose mutations are associated with Friedreich's ataxia. To characterize the folding pathway of this protein we carry out a Φ-value analysis and use the resulting structural information to determine the structure of the folding transition state, which we then validate by a second round of rationally designed mutagenesis. The analysis of the transition-state structure reveals that the regions involved in the folding process are highly aggregation-prone. By contrast, the regions that are functionally important are partially misfolded in the transition state but highly resistant to aggregation. Taken together, these results indicate that in frataxin the competition between folding and function creates the possibility of misfolding, and that to prevent aggregation the amino acid sequence of this protein is optimized to be highly resistant to aggregation in the regions involved in misfolding.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2014; 111(39). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1405233111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Proteins containing iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters arose early in evolution and are essential to life. Organisms have evolved machinery consisting of specialized proteins that operate together to assemble Fe-S clusters efficiently so as to minimize cellular exposure to their toxic constituents: iron and sulfide ions. To date, the best studied system is the iron sulfur cluster (isc) operon of Escherichia coli, and the eight ISC proteins it encodes. Our investigations over the past five years have identified two functional conformational states for the scaffold protein (IscU) and have shown that the other ISC proteins that interact with IscU prefer to bind one conformational state or the other. From analyses of the NMR spectroscopy-derived network of interactions of ISC proteins and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), chemical crosslinking experiments, and functional assays, we have constructed working models for Fe-S cluster assembly and delivery. Future work is needed to validate and refine what has been learned about the E. coli system and to extend these findings to the homologous Fe-S cluster biosynthetic machinery of yeast and human mitochondria. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Fe/S proteins: Analysis, structure, function, biogenesis and diseases.Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research 11/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.bbamcr.2014.11.020 · 5.30 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Reduced levels of the protein frataxin cause the neurodegenerative disease Friedreich's ataxia. Pathology is associated with disruption of iron–sulfur cluster biosynthesis, mitochondrial iron overload, and oxidative stress. Frataxin is a highly conserved iron-binding protein present in most organisms. Despite the intense interest generated since the determination of its pathology, identification of the cellular function of frataxin has so far remained elusive. In this review, we revisit the most significant milestones that have led us to our current understanding of frataxin and its functions. The picture that emerges is that frataxin is a crucial element of one of the most essential cellular machines specialized in iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis. Future developments, therefore, can be expected from further advancements in our comprehension of this machine.Journal of Neurochemistry 08/2013; 126(s1). DOI:10.1111/jnc.12220 · 4.24 Impact Factor