Yeast cells depleted of the frataxin homolog Yfh1 redistribute cellular iron: Studies using Mssbauer spectroscopy and mathematical modeling. Academic Article uri icon


  • The neurodegenerative disease Friedreich's ataxia arises from a deficiency of frataxin, a protein that promotes iron-sulfur cluster (ISC) assembly in mitochondria. Here, primarily using Mssbauer spectroscopy, we investigated the iron content of a yeast strain in which expression of yeast frataxin homolog 1 (Yfh1), oxygenation conditions, iron concentrations, and metabolic modes were varied. We found that aerobic fermenting Yfh1-depleted cells grew slowly and accumulated FeIII nanoparticles, unlike WT cells. Under hypoxic conditions, the same mutant cells grew at rates similar to WT cells, had similar iron content, and were dominated by FeII rather than FeIII nanoparticles. Furthermore, mitochondria from mutant hypoxic cells contained approximately the same levels of ISCs as WT cells, confirming that Yfh1 is not required for ISC assembly. These cells also did not accumulate excessive iron, indicating that iron accumulation into yfh1-deficient mitochondria is stimulated by O2. In addition, in aerobic WT cells, we found that vacuoles stored FeIII, whereas under hypoxic fermenting conditions, vacuolar iron was reduced to FeII. Under respiring conditions, vacuoles of Yfh1-deficient cells contained FeIII, and nanoparticles accumulated only under aerobic conditions. Taken together, these results informed a mathematical model of iron trafficking and regulation in cells that could semiquantitatively simulate the Yfh1-deficiency phenotype. Simulations suggested partially independent regulation in which cellular iron import is regulated by ISC activity in mitochondria, mitochondrial iron import is regulated by a mitochondrial FeII pool, and vacuolar iron import is regulated by cytosolic FeII and mitochondrial ISC activity.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Fernandez, S., Wofford, J. D., Shepherd, R. E., Vali, S. W., Dancis, A., & Lindahl, P. A.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Fernandez, Salvador||Wofford, Joshua D||Shepherd, Rachel E||Vali, Shaik Waseem||Dancis, Andrew||Lindahl, Paul A

publication date

  • January 2022