The DUF59 Containing Protein SufT Is Involved in the Maturation of Iron-Sulfur (FeS) Proteins during Conditions of High FeS Cofactor Demand in Staphylococcus aureus
Mashruwala, Ameya A
Boyd, Eric S.
Boyd, Jeffrey M.
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Proteins containing DUF59 domains have roles in iron-sulfur (FeS) cluster assembly and are widespread throughout Eukarya, Bacteria, and Archaea. However, the function(s) of this domain is unknown. Staphylococcus aureus SufT is composed solely of a DUF59 domain. We noted that sufT is often co-localized with sufBC, which encode for the Suf FeS cluster biosynthetic machinery. Phylogenetic analyses indicated that sufT was recruited to the suf operon, suggesting a role for SufT in FeS cluster assembly. A S. aureus ΔsufT mutant was defective in the assembly of FeS proteins. The DUF59 protein Rv1466 from Mycobacterium tuberculosis partially corrected the phenotypes of a ΔsufT mutant, consistent with a widespread role for DUF59 in FeS protein maturation. SufT was dispensable for FeS protein maturation during conditions that imposed a low cellular demand for FeS cluster assembly. In contrast, the role of SufT was maximal during conditions imposing a high demand for FeS cluster assembly. SufT was not involved in the repair of FeS clusters damaged by reactive oxygen species or in the physical protection of FeS clusters from oxidants. Nfu is a FeS cluster carrier and nfu displayed synergy with sufT. Furthermore, introduction of nfu upon a multicopy plasmid partially corrected the phenotypes of the ΔsufT mutant. Biofilm formation and exoprotein production are critical for S. aureus pathogenesis and vancomycin is a drug of last-resort to treat staphylococcal infections. Defective FeS protein maturation resulted in increased biofilm formation, decreased production of exoproteins, increased resistance to vancomycin, and the appearance of phenotypes consistent with vancomycin-intermediate resistant S. aureus. We propose that SufT, and by extension the DUF59 domain, is an accessory factor that functions in the maturation of FeS proteins. In S. aureus, the involvement of SufT is maximal during conditions of high demand for FeS proteins.