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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evidence for the formation of a linear [3Fe-4S] cluster in partially unfolded aconitase.

Beef heart aconitase, as isolated under aerobic conditions, is inactive and contains a [3Fe-4S]1+ cluster. On incubation at pH greater than 9.5 (or treatment with 4-8 M urea) the color of the protein changes from brown to purple. This purple form is stable and can be converted back in good yield to the active [4Fe-4S]2+ form by reduction in the presence of iron. Active aconitase is converted to the purple form at alkaline pH only after oxidative inactivation. The Fe/S2- ratio of purple aconitase is 0.8, indicating the presence of [3Fe-4S] clusters. The number of SH groups readily reacting with 5,5'-dithiobis(2-nitrobenzoic acid) is increased from approximately 1 in the enzyme as isolated to 7-8 in the purple form, indicating a partial unfolding of the protein. On conversion of inactive aconitase to the purple form, the EPR signal at g = 2.01 (S = 1/2) is replaced by signals at g = 4.3 and 9.6 (S = 5/2). Mössbauer spectroscopy shows that purple aconitase has high-spin ferric ions, each residing in a tetrahedral environment of sulfur atoms. The three iron sites are exchange-coupled to yield a ground state with S = 5/2. Analysis of the data within a spin coupling model shows that J13 congruent to J23 and 2 J12 less than J13, where the Jik describe the antiferromagnetic (J greater than 0) exchange interactions among the three iron pairs. Comparison of our data with those reported for synthetic Fe-S clusters (Hagen, K. S., Watson, A. D., and Holm, R. H., (1983) J. Am. Chem. Soc. 105, 3905-3913) shows that purple aconitase contains a linear [3Fe-4S]1+ cluster, a structural isomer of the S = 1/2 cluster of inactive aconitase. Our studies also show that protein-bound [2Fe-2S] clusters can be generated under conditions where partial unfolding of the protein occurs.[1]


  1. Evidence for the formation of a linear [3Fe-4S] cluster in partially unfolded aconitase. Kennedy, M.C., Kent, T.A., Emptage, M., Merkle, H., Beinert, H., Münck, E. J. Biol. Chem. (1984) [Pubmed]
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