Mitochondrial iron is indispensable for heme biosynthesis and iron-sulfur cluster assembly. Several mitochondrial transmembrane proteins have been implicated to function in the biosynthesis of heme and iron-sulfur clusters by transporting reaction intermediates. However, several mitochondrial proteins related to iron metabolism remain uncharacterized. Here, we show that human sideroflexin 2 (SFXN2), a member of the SFXN protein family, is involved in mitochondrial iron metabolism. SFXN2 is an evolutionarily conserved protein that localized to mitochondria via its transmembrane domain. SFXN2-knockout (KO) cells had an increased mitochondrial iron content, which was associated with decreases in the heme content and heme-dependent enzyme activities. By contrast, the activities of iron-sulfur cluster-dependent enzymes were unchanged in SFXN2-KO cells. Moreover, abnormal iron metabolism impaired mitochondrial respiration in SFXN2-KO cells and accelerated iron-mediated death of these cells. Our findings demonstrate that SFXN2 functions in mitochondrial iron metabolism by regulating heme biosynthesis.
Keywords: Heme; Iron; Mitochondria; OXPHOS; Respiration.