Iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis in bacteria: Mechanisms of cluster assembly and transfer

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2008 Jun 15;474(2):226-37. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2007 Dec 28.


Iron-sulfur [Fe-S] clusters are ubiquitous ancient prosthetic groups that are required to sustain fundamental life processes. Formation of intracellular [Fe-S] clusters does not occur spontaneously but requires a complex biosynthetic machinery. Different types of [Fe-S] cluster assembly systems have been discovered. All of them have in common the requirement of a cysteine desulfurase and the participation of [Fe-S] scaffold proteins. The purpose of this review is to discuss various aspects of the molecular mechanisms of [Fe-S] cluster assembly in living organisms: (i) mechanism of sulfur donor enzymes, namely the cysteine desulfurases; (ii) mechanism by which clusters are preassembled on scaffold proteins and (iii) mechanism of [Fe-S] cluster transfer from scaffold to target proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Carbon-Sulfur Lyases / metabolism
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Protein Folding


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Iron
  • Carbon-Sulfur Lyases
  • cysteine desulfurase
  • Cysteine