Destruction and reformation of an iron-sulfur cluster during catalysis by lipoyl synthase

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Lipoyl synthase (LipA) catalyzes the last step in the biosynthesis of the lipoyl cofactor, which is the attachment of two sulfhydryl groups to C6 and C8 of a pendant octanoyl chain. The appended sulfur atoms derive from an auxiliary [4Fe-4S] cluster on the protein that is degraded during turnover, limiting LipA to one turnover in vitro. We found that the Escherichia coli iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster carrier protein NfuA efficiently reconstitutes the auxiliary cluster during LipA catalysis in a step that is not rate-limiting. We also found evidence for a second pathway for cluster regeneration involving the E. coli protein IscU. These results show that enzymes that degrade their Fe-S clusters as a sulfur source can nonetheless act catalytically. Our results also explain why patients with NFU1 gene deletions exhibit phenotypes that are indicative of lipoyl cofactor deficiencies.

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