A key cytosolic iron–sulfur cluster synthesis protein localizes to the mitochondrion of Toxoplasma gondii

Yi Tong Vincent Aw, Azadeh Seidi, Jenni A. Hayward, Jiwon Lee, F. Victor Makota, Melanie Rug, Giel G. van Dooren

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Iron–sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are prosthetic groups on proteins that function in a range of enzymatic and electron transfer reactions. Fe-S cluster synthesis is essential for the survival of all eukaryotes. Independent Fe-S cluster biosynthesis pathways occur in the mitochondrion, plastid, and cytosolic compartments of eukaryotic cells. Little is known about the cytosolic Fe-S cluster biosynthesis in apicomplexan parasites, the causative agents of diseases such as malaria and toxoplasmosis. NBP35 serves as a key scaffold protein on which cytosolic Fe-S clusters assemble, and has a cytosolic localization in most eukaryotes studied thus far. Unexpectedly, we found that the NBP35 homolog of the apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii (TgNBP35) localizes to the outer mitochondrial membrane, with mitochondrial targeting mediated by an N-terminal transmembrane domain. We demonstrate that TgNBP35 is critical for parasite proliferation, but that, despite its mitochondrial localization, it is not required for Fe-S cluster synthesis in the mitochondrion. Instead, we establish that TgNBP35 is important for the biogenesis of cytosolic Fe-S proteins. Our data are consistent with TgNBP35 playing a central and specific role in cytosolic Fe-S cluster biosynthesis, and imply that the assembly of cytosolic Fe-S clusters occurs on the cytosolic face of the outer mitochondrial membrane in these parasites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)968-985
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Apicomplexa
  • iron–sulfur cluster
  • mitochondria
  • Toxoplasma

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