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Mechanisms of iron sensing and regulation in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


Iron is a redox active element that functions as an essential cofactor in multiple metabolic pathways, including respiration, DNA synthesis and translation. While indispensable for eukaryotic life, excess iron can lead to oxidative damage of macromolecules. Therefore, living organisms have developed sophisticated strategies to optimally regulate iron acquisition, storage and utilization in response to fluctuations in environmental iron bioavailability. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, transcription factors Aft1/Aft2 and Yap5 regulate iron metabolism in response to low and high iron levels, respectively. In addition to producing and assembling iron cofactors, mitochondrial iron-sulfur (Fe/S) cluster biogenesis has emerged as a central player in iron sensing. A mitochondrial signal derived from Fe/S synthesis is exported and converted into an Fe/S cluster that interacts directly with Aft1/Aft2 and Yap5 proteins to regulate their transcriptional function. Various conserved proteins, such as ABC mitochondrial transporter Atm1 and, for Aft1/Aft2, monothiol glutaredoxins Grx3 and Grx4 are implicated in this iron-signaling pathway. The analysis of a wide range of S. cerevisiae strains of different geographical origins and sources has shown that yeast strains adapted to high iron display growth defects under iron-deficient conditions, and highlighted connections that exist in the response to both opposite conditions. Changes in iron accumulation and gene expression profiles suggest differences in the regulation of iron homeostasis genes.