Iron-sulfur clusters as biosensors of oxidants and iron

Trends Biochem Sci. 1996 May;21(5):174-7.


Iron-sulfur clusters are prosthetic groups commonly found in proteins that participate in oxidation-reduction reactions and catalysis. Here, we focus on two proteins that contain iron-sulfur clusters, the fumarate nitrate reduction (FNR) protein of Escherichia coli and mammalian iron-responsive-element-binding protein 1 (IRP1), both of which function as direct sensors of oxygen and iron levels. Assembly and disassembly of iron-sulfur clusters is the key to sensing in these proteins and we speculate that iron-sulfur clusters might be found in other regulatory proteins that sense levels of iron and/or oxygen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Regulatory Protein 1
  • Iron-Regulatory Proteins
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / metabolism
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxidants / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • FNR protein, E coli
  • Iron-Regulatory Proteins
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Oxidants
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Iron
  • Iron Regulatory Protein 1