Nfu2: a scaffold protein required for [4Fe-4S] and ferredoxin iron-sulphur cluster assembly in Arabidopsis chloroplasts

Plant J. 2004 Oct;40(1):101-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2004.02189.x.


Nfu proteins are candidates to act as scaffold protein in vivo for iron-sulphur cluster biogenesis. In this work, Nfu2 protein function in the chloroplast was investigated in vivo using T-DNA insertion lines disrupted in AtNfu2 gene. Both alleles characterized presented the same dwarf phenotype due to photosynthetic and metabolic limitations. Nfu2 cDNA expression in nfu2.1 mutant rescued this phenotype. Photosynthesis study of these mutants revealed an altered photosystem I (PSI) activity together with a decrease in PSI amount confirmed by immunodetection experiments, and leading to an over reduction of the plastoquinol pool. Decrease of plastid 4Fe-4S sulphite reductase activity correlates with PSI amount decrease and supports an alteration of 4Fe-4S cluster biogenesis in nfu2 chloroplasts. The decrease of electron flow from the PSI is combined with a decrease in ferredoxin amount in nfu2 mutants. Our results are therefore in favour of a requirement of Nfu2 protein for 4Fe-4S and 2Fe-2S ferredoxin cluster assembly, conferring to this protein an important function for plant growth and photosynthesis as demonstrated by nfu2 mutant phenotype. As glutamate synthase and Rieske Fe-S proteins are not affected in nfu2 mutants, these data indicate that different pathways are involved in Fe-S biogenesis in Arabidopsis chloroplasts.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Carotenoids / metabolism
  • Caulimovirus / genetics
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Ferredoxins / metabolism*
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis
  • Photosynthesis / genetics
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Ferredoxins
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Nfu2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Chlorophyll
  • Carotenoids