Biosynthesis of complex iron-sulfur enzymes

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2011 Apr;15(2):319-27. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2011.02.012. Epub 2011 Mar 8.


Recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms for the biosynthesis of the complex iron-sulfur (Fe-S) containing prosthetic groups associated with [FeFe]-hydrogenases and nitrogenases have revealed interesting parallels. The biosynthesis of the H-cluster ([FeFe]-hydrogenase) and the FeMo-co (nitrogenase) occurs through a coordinated process that involves the modification of Fe-S cluster precursors synthesized by the general host cell machinery (Isc/Suf). Key modifications to the Fe-S precursors are introduced by the activity of radical S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) enzymes on unique scaffold proteins. The transfer of the modified clusters to a cofactor-less structural apo-protein completes maturation. Together these features provide the basis for establishing unifying paradigms for complex Fe-S cluster biosynthesis for these enzymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / chemistry
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Biosynthesis*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins