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Structural and functional characterization of a frataxin from a thermophilic organism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Masooma Rasheed, Mostafa Jamshidiha, Rita Puglisi, Robert Yan, Ernesto Cota, Annalisa Pastore

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-506
Number of pages12
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jan 2019
Accepted/In press10 Jan 2019
E-pub ahead of print12 Jan 2019
Published1 Feb 2019


King's Authors


Frataxins form an interesting family of iron‐binding proteins with an almost unique fold and are highly conserved from bacteria to primates. They have a pivotal role in iron‐sulfur cluster biogenesis as regulators of the rates of cluster formation, as it is testified by the fact that frataxin absence is incompatible with life and reduced levels of the protein lead to the recessive neurodegenerative disease Friedreich's ataxia. Despite its importance, the structure of frataxin has been solved only from relatively few species. Here, we discuss the X‐ray structure of frataxin from the thermophilic fungus Chaetomium thermophilum, and the characterization of its interactions and dynamics in solution. We show that this eukaryotic frataxin has an unusual variation of the classical frataxin fold: the last helix is shorter than in other frataxins which results in a less symmetrical and compact structure. The stability of this protein is comparable to that of human frataxin, currently the most stable amongst the frataxin orthologues. We also characterized the iron‐binding mode of C. thermophilum frataxin and demonstrated that it binds it through a semi‐conserved negatively charged ridge on the first helix and beta‐strand. Moreover, this frataxin is also able to bind the bacterial ortholog of the desulfurase, which is central in iron‐sulfur cluster synthesis, and act as its inhibitor.

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