Staphylococcus Aureus SufT: an Essential Iron-sulphur Cluster Assembly Factor in Cells Experiencing a High-demand for Lipoic Acid

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Staphylococcus aureus SufT is composed solely of the domain of unknown function 59 (DUF59) and has a role in the maturation of iron-sulphur (Fe-S) proteins. We report that SufT is essential for S. aureus when growth is heavily reliant upon lipoamide-utilizing enzymes, but dispensable when this reliance is decreased. LipA requires Fe-S clusters for lipoic acid (LA) synthesis and a ΔsufT strain had phenotypes suggestive of decreased LA production and decreased activities of lipoamide-requiring enzymes. Fermentative growth, a null clpC allele, or decreased flux through the TCA cycle diminished the demand for LA and rendered SufT non-essential. Abundance of the Fe-S cluster carrier Nfu was increased in a ΔclpC strain and a null clpC allele was unable to suppress the LA requirement of a ΔsufT Δnfu strain. Over-expression of nfu suppressed the LA requirement of the ΔsufT strain. We propose a model wherein SufT, and by extension the DUF59, is essential for the maturation of holo-LipA in S. aureus cells experiencing a high demand for lipoamide-dependent enzymes. The findings presented suggest that the demand for products of Fe-S enzymes is a factor governing the usage of one Fe-S cluster assembly factor over another in the maturation of apo-proteins.

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Molecular Microbiology, v. 102, issue 6, p. 1099-1119